When you think of healthcare, you might have images of sick people sitting next to one another in a physician’s office waiting room for hours trying not to cough or sneeze on each other. Or, you may have images of hospital beds and IV poles in rooms echoing with beeps and alarms. While these scenes still happen in healthcare and certainly have their place in the continuum of care, the idea of “sick care” is changing.
As we approach the 20th year of the 21st century, hospitals, practitioners, and other care providers have started to question what healthcare consumers really want. With the evolution of healthcare delivery changing from in-patient to out-patient, people living longer, and the cost of healthcare continuing to sky-rocket, individuals are looking for ways to increase health and minimize sickness.
So what do healthcare consumers want? They want something different. Consumers are choosing convenience over relationships, lower healthcare costs, and ease of access to services. This has caused the healthcare industry to turn to mobile apps and other new frontiers in healthcare in large numbers.
What is mHealth?
There is no standard definition of mHealth or mobile health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mHealth is a medical and public health practice supported by mobile phones, patient monitoring devices, and other wireless tools. With more than 5 billion mobile phone subscriptions in the world, it only makes sense to use this technology to increase patient engagement with healthcare services.
Understanding Healthcare Apps
The power of healthcare apps is endless. Patients use them for face-to-face appointments with providers, to schedule check-ups and review test results, and to send critical information to members of their care team to receive instructions after hours.
Apps are also being used to take control of chronic conditions, increase compliance with diet changes, and keep people on track with weight loss goals. There is even diversity in apps that aim to improve access to care for specific patient populations. If you have a specific health need or are looking to connect with others to gain motivation and support, you can probably find an app to help you. The bottom line is that healthcare apps are here to stay. So, let’s review a few of the best and most diverse ones out there.
Abnormal heart rhythms can be scary. With the AliveCor app, an FDA-cleared device, you can find out if your heart rhythm is normal or if atrial fibrillation is detected in just 30 seconds. This app uses a sensor that you place your fingers on which detects your heart rhythm. It can also track your blood pressure readings and weight.
If you’re concerned about an abnormal reading, you can email the recording to yourself or your provider. AliveCor is portable, making it easy to slip in your pocket or wear a special band on your wrist that works with an Apple Watch.
Unhealthy attitudes and discrimination of the LGBTQ+ population exist in healthcare. One study found that these individuals face disrespectful attitudes and have even been refused care at the hands of physicians and facilities.
These attitudes are the exact reason three medical students developed Spectrum Scores, an app that helps LGBTQ+ patients find providers that are competent in culturally sensitive care. Each provider on the app is given a SprectrumScore in four metrics: welcoming environment, LGBTQ+ knowledge, inclusive processes, and overall satisfaction to help you find the provider that best fits your needs.
The WellDoc team created BlueStar, an innovative solution for Type 2 Diabetics to track and trend their blood glucose levels, receive in-app diabetes education, and tailored coaching messages that help to empower you to make good diet and lifestyle choices. This app also allows you to connect with diabetes educators in real time to ask questions and learn the best ways to control your disease. This app is population health at its best.
Clinical Trial Seek
Cancer patients want the latest in research when choosing a treatment plan. Often this means you need to seek out clinical trials that test new drugs, devices, and methods of care. Clinical Trial Seek puts this critical information at your fingertips in an app available on iOS and Android. You can use the flexible and extensive search tool to find clinical trials in your area by your diagnosis or the phase of the trial.
Canopy Medical Translator
Understanding healthcare information can be difficult when you and the provider speak the same language. Add in language barriers, and it can be downright impossible to help patients understand what’s happening in their care. The Canopy Medical Translator offers a list of translated phrases in 15 languages. You can also access a medical interpreter with the click of one button.
Healthcare is evolving. Long gone are the days where providers know their patients intimately, or patients agree to any care suggested. Today’s patients are smart and savvy, which makes using healthcare apps desirable and sensible.