As a nurse, I have an interest in the variety of smart phone (Iphone, Android etc) applications that help patients with their health care. Recently I found a few that are particularly helpful and not so helpful. Searching the free applications, I did not find any that I thought were worth the time. I broadened my scope to applications less than $2.00 and was happy to find several worthwhile, interesting, and helpful for patients.
My Medical By: Steven Chaitoff
This is a really comprehensive app that will store all sorts of your own health information and an option to include other members of your family. This would be ideal for the person with their own health related issues who is responsible for caring for chronically ill parents or children as well. The app records items such as general information, current and past medications (including how you reacted, why you were on it, dosage, etc.), allergies, immunization history, surgeries, family history, eyesight, advance directive information, test results, and so much more.
Some other nice features include the ability to text message and email parts of the data. There is also a feature to store photographs and link them to specific areas in the information. Concerned about a suspicious looking mole? Take a picture, store it, and compare it over time to see if it is changing. You can also enter your upcoming appointments, prescription refills, and set alerts accordingly. Oh, and it is password protected!
The user interface is no frills, easy to understand, and really takes the guess work out of your current health treatment and past history. I definitely recommend this app for anyone with a healthcare history.
My Medications By: American Medial Association
This app is a bit more polished looking than “My Medical”, but just a little less comprehensive. There are fields to record information about your healthcare team (can pull from your Contacts list as well), emergency information, medications, immunizations, and allergies. There is a nice “Other” section that asks if you are an organ donor, have a living will, and if you have a healthcare power of attorney.
The features are well organized and useful. The medications section also has fields that will help keep track of current medications, but does not have a way to enter meds that were taken in the past. Additionally, there is no functionality to add pictures. The Information section was particularly helpful. This area is not interactive, but includes a very nice list of all the issues a patient should consider when taking medications: ask for a pill cutter, request liquid instead of pills, as well as suggested questions and topics to discuss with your healthcare professional.
In general this is a good app and will meet the needs of most people. It is missing a few sections if your health condition is more complicated. But with the nice appearing user interface, linking to other parts of the smart phone, and ease of data entry, this app could be useful to many.
HeartWise Blood Pressure Tracker By: SwEng LLC
Hypertension and heart disease is pervasive in our society. This is a fantastic application for anyone who needs to track their blood pressure.
The application is focused on the data it collects. There are entries for blood pressure, pulse, and weight. You can also enter a special note for the entry (just ate, was feeling angry, etc.). The data is compiled into a chart and statistics. The chart will show line graphs over the week, month, 90 days, or year. The statistics section calculates averages and daily fluctuations (if you happen to be measuring more than once a day). A really helpful option is a feature that allows the user to take a snapshot of the graph and save to your smart phone camera roll. From there you could email it or text to your healthcare professional.
For the cardiac patient, this could be a very useful application.Many times this information is required to be tracked on paper by the new cardiac patient. If you are a “paperless” kind of person, this would be a very nice alternative.
Medical Reference Resources
Medical Reference By: Phantom Particle Software
This app is for the patient who wants to truly be educated and understand the variety of words, terms, and abbreviations used in healthcare. It has an easy interface, and very little navigation is required. It is essentially divided into two sections, one for abbreviations and one for terminology. When the abbreviation is found, a small window pops open with the expanded text.
The medical terminology section has limited value to the patient. The terminology area is subdivided into Prefixes, Stems, and Suffixes. For example, you may want to know what microcephaly means. You would first look under prefixes- find “micro”. A small window will pop up that says, “small”. Then go to the stem section, find “cephal” and discover this means “head”. A search for the suffix “y” does not yield any results. So, it may be assumed that microcephaly means small head (which it does).
To the patient new to a particular condition, this app is not a good resource to learn from. It may provide better insight into the origins of particular medical terminology, however without the input of a trained healthcare professional, it may be difficult to determine the true meaning of a word. Without the ability to link to definitions and explanations, there is risk of misunderstanding.
Medical Dictionary: A-Z By: Shiv Verma
The list of terms is quite significant and will be beyond the normal patients need (unless you really need to know the meaning of CBF A Protein, CCAAT Binding). That being said, the routine terms can also be found as well. This app would be for a supplement for the patient who wants to become educated about their condition. It would not be necessary for the casual healthcare issues.
Although the dictionary itself seems to be fairly comprehensive, the definitions are very brief. Typically the definition is summed up in just a couple of sentences. This app may be a good reference to have around, but does not replace consulting with your healthcare professional on particular words or issues. I anticipate that in many cases, the definition of the word looked up will leave the user with more questions than it answered.
Gray’s Anatomy PremiumBy: Archibald Industries
Most of us can remember going through a book version of Gray’s anatomy in our Biology class in school. Gray’s Anatomy has been a standard anatomy related reference. This app includes over 1,200 annotated illustrations and texts from a variety of studies in anatomy. The interface is a little cumbersome, but the user can quickly learn where the limitations are found.
The app is divided into chapters on specific areas of study (embryology, osteology, syndesmology, etc.). Navigating through the information and the illustrations can be frustrating and the information is not very detailed. I had difficulty finding some tabs. The illustrations are what you would expect from a Gray’s Anatomy, black and white with occasional basic color.
For the patient who is interested in learning what is below the skin, I would not recommend this app. Although Gray’s anatomy enjoys over a century of being a solid reference, I would recommend either getting the book itself or use a variety of other online anatomy resources.
Just for Fun
iStethoscope By: Undercover Scientist
This application admits up front that it is a test of concept and not meant to be used for clinical purposes. Regardless, I had to see what this app could do. Essentially, this app uses the microphone on the smart phone with a headset to listen to a heartbeat.
The user is directed to use over the ear headphones. I tried this application with standard ear buds, high end ear buds, and a high end over the ear headset. The only time I could hear my heart beat was with the over the ear headset, and even then it was a bit sketchy. There are several filters to choose from to help improve the listening experience. I was only able to hear using one of the filters. There is a nice feature to record and even email your heart beat.
In short, I do not recommend this app for patients. However, this app does make me excited for the future possibilities!
Netter’s Anatomy Atlas By: Elsevier Inc.
Dream Big! I am putting this app on my wish list. At $89.99 you really have to be into anatomy. (Do not confuse with the Skyscape version). This app is not for a smart phone, but more designed for a tablet.
This app includes over 500 detailed medical illustrations. Per the description of this app, you can tap on the picture to get additional information about innervations, actions, and blood supply. There is also a 50 question anatomy test and the ability to customize labels.
A great study guide for any student, and perfect for the anatomy nerd in your family.
There are many medical and healthcare apps available for smart phones. Read the reviews before you purchase. If you have your favorite smart phone apps, please feel free to leave a comment or message me. I would love to hear about it!