Finding out that you or a loved one is ill is never a process anyone wants to go through. It can be scary, challenging and confusing. You may not know who to truly turn to for the best care, or you may feel that you are all alone. Fortunately, with the rise of social media and the smart phone, there are now a plethora of free apps designed to help patients better cope with their illnesses. Here are a few that are worth checking out.
1. Daily Strength
Daily Strength is a free app designed to connect patients suffering from similar illnesses. Like the website, the app allows you to connect to an online forum where one can join support groups and share stories with those who are facing the same illnesses and challenges as you. The range of support groups is vast, ranging from mental disorders such ADHD, to various cancers and even insomnia. The app also includes information on treatments, expert answers and health blogs. I decided to search skin cancer, something a family member has dealt with in the past, and was greeted with a discussion board of people sharing their experiences and offering support. There were also a few articles related to skin cancer available under the health blogs section. Overall, this is a good app for someone looking for a supportive online community to help them cope with their illness.
Vitals is an app that allows you to compare different doctors when choosing who to receive treatment from. They do this by encouraging users to review doctors they have seen so that potential patients can choose the right match for them. The app also includes information on dentists for all your oral hygiene problems, and the app provides doctor searches for patients looking for medical care internationally. I searched for dentists near me and was greeted by a helpful listing of all those in the immediate area accompanied by their distance from me, their rating, there location on a map, and the option to call for an appointment. If you are worried about choosing the right doctor, this app may be worth a look.
3. Health Tap
Health Tap is a free app for those seeing medical advice directly from doctors. A patient can ask or search for specific question regarding an illness or health habit, and licensed physicians will answer the question. You can also check to see how many other physicians on the site agree with the response to make sure that the opinion is valid. Additionally if you want more information about the person who answered your query, you can view there profile page to find out where they work and what their background is. If you have a specific question that you want a quick opinion on, this may be a good place to start. For example, I wanted to get their opinion on who should absolutely get a flu shot, and I was presented with a clear and concise answer about which groups were at greatest risk from the flu and should get vaccinated. But remember, nothing beats a physician examining you in person. If you are truly concerned about your health see a physician.
Link: Health Tap
As the company itself says, Medify is “medical research simplified”. Medify is a database where people can search for information about studies regarding different conditions. The site gets its information from research and patient studies. These studies are filtered into four categories; treatments, conditions, experts, and hot research issues. The goal is to help patients learn what they need to know about their condition as well as inform them of the work currently being done to help treat it. I decided to search for breast cancer, one of their most viewed conditions. The site directed me to a page that had the basic stats on the number of studies done and the number of patients studied. It also included articles based on studies of the disease, links to questions that members of the community are asking about the cancer, what institutions publish the best studies along with information on other diseases that are often studied alongside breast cancer. If you are looking for valid research information regarding a particular illness and its treatments, this may be the app for you.
ZocDoc is designed to allow patients to find and book an appointment with a doctor or dentist online for free. You can search for a professional by specialty and by location. You can even search for physicians and dentists based on what type of insurance they accept so you don’t waste your time going to someone who won’t take your plan. Once you have found someone you might want to make an appointment with, you can click their profile to see reviews on their work and their professional statement about themselves. If you are new to an area and looking for a doctor or dentist, this app can be a good way to quickly find someone you can book and appointment with. I searched for optometrists who take my insurance plan, and was directed to a helpful list of highly rated doctors with their location and time of first available appointment.
These are just a few of the health apps that are available in the exploding world of mobile health (mhealth). What is your favorite health app?