New mobile apps for your health

May 15, 2013 8:57:22 AM PDT
As the motto goes "there's an app for that" and now the mobile market is moving into healthcare.

As with any new technology there are always concerns, but experts believe mobile health apps could change the way healthcare is practiced, making things easier for both the provider and for the patient.

Want to know your heart rate in an instant? Use the cardiiO app. By scanning your face the app tracks the changes in reflected light in your face every time your heart beats. Its creators claim its accurate within 3 beats-per-minute of a clinical pulse oximeter.

How about how well you're sleeping? Yep, there's an app for that as well called Sleep Cycle.

By placing your phone on your bed, the app measures your movements and can be set to wake you in your lightest sleep state.

An exercise enthusiast tells me she uses Strava to track her cycling workouts.

And dozens of people weighed on my Facebook page to tell me about health apps they're using, to track calories or blood pressure. There is even one for nursing students.

Some doctors are also using apps. MDconnectME allows surgeons to give your family updates during surgery.

Dr. Bill Hanson is the Chief Medical Information Officer at Penn and author of two books detailing how new technology is changing medicine. He says the business of health apps is booming.

"Forecasters are looking at what they believe will be a $25-billion dollar market in the near future," Dr. Hanson said.

In a symposium at Penn, doctors detailed how these mobile tools can change healthcare.

Besides tracking your own health habits, doctors can also prescribe some apps to help manage your care at home such as the Diabetes Manager.

The new Asthmapolis app is also getting a lot of attention. It uses a sensor attached to your inhaler so it can track where you are and potentially what triggers are around when you have an asthma attack and that information can be used in the future.

"Our goal is to support patients in better taking care of themselves," Diane Kaye of Asthmapolis said.

Asthmapolis will also help researchers collect information.

Dr. Hanson says the more automated the app, the better the data.

"An analogy that we see in photography is that photos take with an iPhone, you can geotag them, locate where the photo was taken, you can potentially tag the individuals in the photograph," Dr. Hanson said.

He says the next step is figuring out how to get information from apps into medical records.

But that comes with concerns about privacy and how the information will be used. Still he says as the technology evolves, there is no question the tools will help provide better care at a better price.

And just like on the Internet, if you use any apps, you want to make sure you are not giving private information unless you know the site is secure.



Sleep Cycle


WellDoc-Diabetes Manager