App Your Way to Health
Mobile technologies are making their way into every nook and corner of our lives. With millions of users, it is no surprise that healthcare providers are now looking at mobile apps as a way to maximise their reach. Mobile apps for scheduling appointments or ordering prescription meds are passe’. The latest trend is to use apps for getting better!
When we use our smartphones for everything, why not for an app that will keep us on the way to health? A 2014 FDA (Food and Drug Administration) predicts that half a billion smartphone users worldwide are expected to use a health care app by the end of 2018.
Healthcare care apps are being developed a dime a dozen every day but those that address specific issues or provide a sustainable recovery action plan will stay. Some of the basic features that a successful healthcare app will have are:
- Addressal of a specific need eg. De-addiction
- A strong and efficient healthcare provider network
- One-on-one treatment options
- Networking options to find support groups
Here’s a list of apps that help you actually heal, recover and not relapse back.
- Sobriety Apps
These apps are meant for people who need help with their addictions to alcohol, drugs, coffee, junk food or even their smartphones! The main purpose is to help people have a support group in hand that will offer support and encouragement along the path to de-addiction. Some of the popular sobriety apps are: Squirrel Recovery, Sober Grid, Quit That, Recovery Box, and Sober Tool. Some of these, such as Quit That, tracks the number of days or hours since the user stopped the bad habit and also the amount of money they have saved. Plus, it allows to track multiple addictions for a single person. SoberTool helps to keep the user motivated by issuing prompts to know the user’s current state of mind. A search option allows us to find answers to situations that threaten a relapse.
- Physical Therapy Apps
Physical therapy is one of those areas of healthcare where patients have to be in constant touch with their therapist to reap the benefits of the therapy. With busy lifestyles, patients are turning to physical therapy apps that monitor their progress on a daily basis. Particularly those on a home exercise program can download the relevant programs, get reminders of the exercises, and send realtime inputs to their therapists who will monitor their progress. Some of the top physical therapy apps available are: PT pal Pro, Pain Therapy, Physioadvisor, BlueJayPT, myRehab, PT Timer, Rehab TherX, WellPepper, and Physical Therapy for Kids. Some apps such as Shoudler Decide, Pocket Anatomy, Muscle and Bone Anatomy 3D, and CMV provide 3-Dimensional videos of the human anatomy so patients can understand how their injury is affecting their overall health.
- Mental Health Apps
As mental health issues continue to grow all over the world, the ability to cope is now tied to how tech savvy a person is, particularly among the young generation of people. The main obstacle a person with mental issues faces is the inability to understand what is wrong, the hesitation in seeking out help and lack of support from society. Mobile apps act as a support system. Although these apps cannot replace medication or treatment, they can be used to manage mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. Some of the best mental health apps are: Depression CBT Self-Help Guide, Positive Thinking, Operation Reach Out, Moodkit, Fight Depression Naturally, Diary Mood Tracker, TalkLife, Lantern, Depression Anxiety Stress Test, What’s Up?, MoodMission, and Pacifica.
Each of these Mental Health Apps has unique and interactive features that deal with separate types of mental health issues. For instance, some of them take the user through a situation and help them to figure out a solution to the issue at hand in a more productive way. Others help to handle negative self-talk or stressful episodes by helping them to stay focused.
- Unique Apps
There are thousands of apps that connect patients to healthcare providers, hospitals, pharmacies, diagnostic centres and therapists. Among these, there are certain apps that use technology to the optimum. One such app is the Insight Optics app that allows the Primary Care Physician to have an opthalmoscope that is compatible with a smart phone camera. Patients can thus take high-resolution pictures with their smartphones and send them as images to their PCP. This is only to identify whether the person needs a thorough examination or not but it helps PCPs to have a general view of the eye’s condition and saves the patient the time and cost of actually going to an ophthalmologist.
Another similar app that connects patients and doctors directly is the Medici app through which patients can describe their symptoms and send pictures. The doctor will revert back as to whether the patient has to come in for a thorough examination or orders a prescription directly to the patient’s pharmacy.
EarlyWell is another unique app that taps into the diagnostics market. Patients can order any test, ranging from pregnancy to cholesterol to food allergies, take the test at home following instructions on the portal, and mail it back to EarlyWell. The samples are analysed and the results are sent to the patient directly through a secure online portal.
Healthcare apps are filling the gaps that have long existed in the healthcare field and are changing the way patients interact with healthcare providers. These new channels can be effective only if there is continued communication with the healthcare providers. They only provide the convenience of getting help remotely but don’t actually replace a hospital visit, if necessary.