Technology is rapidly changing the way we manage healthcare. Mobile technologies like smartphones and tablets put tools that can have a positive impact on patients’ health management right at their fingertips. We’re all spending a lot more time on these technologies, after all, so it makes good sense to find ways to use them to make substantial changes in every patient’s health outcomes.
Not only that, we believe that it is our job as healthcare providers to help patients negotiate the information overload and find healthcare solutions that integrate with their daily behaviors. Because it’s not just about writing prescriptions anymore, it’s about helping patients learn to take charge and manage their own health in effectual and meaningful ways. Here are our choices for some of the best apps on the market that can help you affect real change in your patients’ lives.
1. For Patients Who Smoke—MyQuit Coach
According to the CDC, nearly 70% of smokers want to quit, they just don’t have the willpower, resources, or the know-how. There are very few smokers who are unaware of the long-term damage the habit can cause, which means citing morbidity statistics at them isn’t an effectual tactic at getting a positive outcome. Instead, imbuing your patient with a sense of power and control can produce better results. That’s where LiveStrong’s app, MyQuit Coach, can help.
This app is designed to help personalize a quitting plan. Users can set goals for themselves, track their progress, and receive motivational tips and coaching along the way. It can be just the encouragement and change a smoker needs to finally give up smoking for good.
2. For Patients with Fertility Issues—MyDays
As couples push back on starting their families in favor of education and career aspirations, we’re seeing more and more patients struggling to start a family when the time is finally right. And the biggest complaint from patients seems to be the helplessness they feel during the process.
An app like MyDays, which allows users to chart their monthly menstruation cycles, basal temperature, and personal history, can be the solution for helping our patients feel as if they have a sense of ownership over their own bodies once again. It’s visual display of ovulation and high fertility cycles make it easy for users to know the best times to try again.
3. For Patients with Asthma—AsthmaMD
This free app allows users to gather information and a personal asthma history that they can then share with their healthcare providers. Its intuitive interface simplifies keeping track of asthma attacks, medications taken, symptoms, and any environmental triggers that may be aggravating the condition. Users can also anonymously update their data to AsthmaMD to help their researchers pinpoint and track locations with the most severe asthma incidents.
4. For Patients with Depression or Mood Disorders—Moodscope
Many patients who struggle with depression feel isolated and alone, even when they have large support networks which are willing to offer love and support. The patient often doesn’t know how to take the steps to reach out. That’s where the Moodscope online app can step in and make a huge difference. It makes measuring one’s mood, and reaching out to trusted friends and loved one, as much a part of one’s daily life as eating dinner or heading off to work.
Users can chart their state of mind every day online and share the information with a trusted group of friends. If the user is down, the app will alert the others in their circle that he or she is in need of a pick-me-up. The app can also help users learn what factors in their life contribute to their depression and make the necessary changes to start improving their mental well-being.
From day to day, it can be nearly impossible to remember what we’ve eaten and keep an inventory of that information, but for patients with high cholesterol, this information can be vital. A simple cholesterol intake tracking app like Cholesterol Manager can make it easy and make certain that patients are really thinking about the foods that they eat.
This app logs all of the foods that users eats and has a database of nearly 100,000 of the most commonly eaten foods to choose from. At the end of each day, users can get a summary of their daily food intake which includes cholesterol, saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats, and caloric intake. A sleek and simple chart makes it easy for users to tell whether or not they are staying on track and within cholesterol intake parameters.
6. For Patients with Diabetes—Glucose Buddy
Incidents of diabetes are on the rise in the United States as obesity and other contributing factors become more common amongst the population. The shining light, however, is that technology has also made it easier for us to help our patients learn to control and manage their diabetes symptoms and glucose levels.
One app that’s particularly simple and facile is Glucose Buddy. It features an intuitive interface that allows users to keep track not only of glucose levels, but also the foods they eat, medications, activities, weight loss progress, and carb intake. Users can see this information in simple graphs, calculate their daily intakes, and compile a printable history that they can bring in with them to doctor’s visits.
7. For Patients with Insomnia—Sleep Time+
For many people, insomnia can be a lifetime battle that makes getting enough sleep, and functioning on a normal schedule, very difficult to achieve. For others, occasional insomnia can be a product of outside stressors or environment. Yet we all know how important sleep is to every other aspect of good health. Still, traditional sleeping aid regimens can be addictive and unsustainable. It’s difficult to know how to give adequate support as a healthcare provider.
An app like Sleep Time+ can be just the solution offering your patient some relief to bedtime frustration. It’s essentially an alarm clock app that can be tucked under a mattress or pillow overnight. It will monitor the user’s sleep cycle and wake him or her up during the lightest sleep phase, when it’s easier to arise and not feel cranky and overly-tired. Over the long term, this app can take a step in resetting a user’s sleep cycles. It also saves the user’s sleep data so that he or she can see long-term statistics and share these with a doctor.
8. For Patients with Autism—Sōsh
While researchers debate whether or not autism spectrum disorder is more prevalent or just more reported these days, we are seeing a marked influx of ASD children and patients who need all of the help they can get improving their social skills and feeling comfortable in day-to-day interactions with others.
One app that can help ASD patients improve those skills is Sōsh. Designed to help adolescent users improve on the five basic R’s that form the foundation of social interaction—relation, relaxation, reasoning, regulation, and recognition—Sōsh has an intuitive user interface that helps users hone in on the areas they need to improve. With everything from a voice meter to let the user know whether he or she is speaking at the right level to a Shredder that allows the user to type up an upsetting thought and watch it virtually disappear, this app can be a great aid to your patient’s socialization efforts.
9. For Patients with Epilepsy— Seizure Log
Trying to find the right mixture of medications for epilepsy control and management can be a long and arduous process that’s frustrating for the patient and doctor alike. Yet, it’s necessary in order to make certain that our patients have the highest quality of life and the most accurate diagnosis possible.
An app like Seizure Log, which works in combination with the website seizuretracker.com, can be instrumental in tracking, monitoring, and recording seizure events. This app charts the length and severity of each episode and allows the user to keep an up-to-date log of seizures that he or she can then share with healthcare professionals.
10. For Patients with Obesity—GymPact
Starting and maintaining an effective exercise routine can be difficult for anyone, even those who are relatively active, and yet regular exercise is essential for overall health. For our obese patients, activity is even more important, yet the hurdles for starting a fitness routine can be almost insurmountable. Sometimes being creative in formulating a fitness plan that will stick is what’s called for.
That’s where GymPact enters the equation. Users literally put their money where their mouths are when using this exercise motivating app. When users register for the app, they enter their credit card information and make a weekly pact for themselves about how many times they’ll hit the gym. If they fail, they have to pay the amount. But if they succeed, they are paid the amount they pledged via PayPal. The best part? Payouts come from the group of users who failed to meet their exercise goals. For some patients who are struggling with weight control, this app could be just the thing to change their exercise outlook.
Though it’s been less than a decade since smartphones were introduced to the market, and only a few years for tablets, the impact they’re having on healthcare management is undeniable. Patients now have easier access to the tools that can improve their lives, and doctors have a responsibility to help them make that transition.