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Study Shows Mobile Devices Increase Patient Engagement

I’ve heard many people ask the question of whether or not mobile health care helps or hurts patient engagement. The latest study says it definitely improves it.

A study conducted by the Center for Connected Health, published in 2013, found that when a patient used a wireless device to track data, they were found to track their blood pressure more often than those who else a telephone modem device.  In this study, the median age was 61.7 years old. Here are some of the other findings:

  • Those using wireless devices recorded and engaged more frequently 
  • The number of uploads per day were higher with those using a wireless device.

Personally, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. If I had the option of tracking health data on a mobile device, or on a regular telephone, I would definitely choose the mobile device. It’s so much more convenient, and easier to remember. I don’t know if this was an option in the study, but I know with many mobile devices, you can set up push alerts. If a person gets an alert, reminding them to record certain information, I feel like it would help as well.

What I thought was most interesting was the median age — 61.7. I don’t think it would come as any surprise that someone quite a bit younger (myself) would think that mobile healthcare would help with patient engagement, especially with the younger generation. However, the fact that the participants in this study are older, I think that is what makes this study a little more monumental.  At least with the people I know that are around that age, mobile devices can be intimidating. But if they are set up with their device, shown how it works, and understand it, I think that people of all ages will start to benefit from mobile devices.

July 15, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Pain Squad App Helps Adolescent Cancer Patients

I can’t even imagine what a scary experience it would be to have cancer, let along as a child. One of the ways to treat the symptoms of cancer is to understand the pain level, and what the patient is feeling. However, that can be difficult to get a full grasp on, especially in children. If they aren’t tracking it daily, then information collected can be flawed.

Last year, an app was released in beta testing at a Canadian hospital in Toronto to help doctors understand more fully what their younger patients were feeling as they underwent cancer treatment. The app, called Pain Squad, was developed using the feedback from children and teenagers who had cancer. It involves pain surveys that have to be filled out twice daily, but involves the child and engages them.

The app features videos of celebrities from popular law enforcement shows, Rookie Blue and Flashpoint, giving motivation to kids as they do a certain amount of journals in a row, and they can be promoted to different ranks. This video does a great job of explaining the app, and shows some of the videos. They are so motivating!

I really liked this quote, from the parents of a little girl named Olivia, who was a study participant:

Filling out a paper pain journal was like homework. The Pain Squad app is interactive and the more Olivia used it, the more rewards she got. It only takes a few minutes to complete but it gave Olivia a better understanding of and more control over her pain.”

Last year, this was in some of the final stages of testing, and because of it’s success, it was set to be released in other areas in Canada, as well as outside of Canada. I’m not sure if it’s officially been released since then, but I love the idea of this. There’s only so much you can determine from asking someone to point at a smiley face on a poster board to describe their pain level (I personally never really know what to say when I’m confronted with that sign!)

This app is designed for the iPhone.

June 26, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

“The Kaiser Way” – Kaiser Permanente’s Approach to Mobile Healthcare

Kaiser Permanente is the healthcare provider I went to since the time I was born, until I went to college. Imagine my surprise when I headed off to school and discover that it didn’t even exist in the state I moved to. In my limited scope of knowledge, I think I thought Kaiser was the only healthcare provider out there!

Even though I’ve come to realize there is definitely more than one healthcare provider out there, I think I’ll always like Kaiser. My husband and I are back in Colorado, and are currently working to get a plan covered by Kaiser. As I’ve heard my parents talk about them, and seen some of the services offered, I’ve been impressed with what they have to offer, and how it seems like they’ve been very involved in mobile healthcare. So I wasn’t too surprised when I saw this article that talks about how Kaiser has made it possible for their patient’s to connect with their doctors via email.

In the article, Bernard J. Tyson, Kaiser Permanente’s Incoming Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said of this mobile app that “It’s something our members wanted, they have it and they love it.” I think that this goes to show that Kaiser is really trying to be intune with the changing healthcare world, and what their patients wnat. Since being launched, there have been 14 million e-visits, Tyson said, and members can access these visits through a free mobile app.

Patients are able to connect with their doctor through the app by emailing them questions, making appointments, and accessing lab results. It allows patients to decide whether or not they actually need to make an appointment, as well as build a stronger relationship with their physician. Kaiser has worked hard to ensure the safety of the patients using this app, as that is definitely a big concern across the board when it comes to mHealth.

Personally, I love the idea about being able to email your physician. Back in Utah, I was overall impressed with the patient portals that were available to me, but I was disappointed that it wasn’t easier to connect with my doctors. In fact, there was one instance where I tried to get in contact with a physician for over a month, just getting the run around from her assistants, and I eventually just gave up. The doctor seemed very on top of things, but her staff was not, and I always wished I had been able to just contact her quickly and easily through a method like the one that Kaiser has in place.

I won’t go over everything that is talked about in this article, but I highly recommend reading it. It sounds like Kaiser has a lot in store for the future. Tyson mentioned that the obvious next “natural progression” is for telehealth. I really found this article to be really excited, and I can’t wait to see what Kaiser has in store. Hopefully other healthcare systems will take note and follow in their suite.

June 24, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

BlueStar By WellDoc To Be First Mobile Prescription Therapy

You may be familiar with WellDoc already. They are distributors of a mobile app that was created to help manage diabetes, which has been very successful. And just a few days ago, they released something else that appears to be rather monumental.

The service is called BlueStar, and is the mobile version of the diabetes management program. What’s so monumental about this, is that it is the first disease therapy to be prescribed through an app. In addition to that, it is also the first that can be eligible for reimbursement through insurance. Not all insurance companies will cover it, but self-insured companies like Ford, Rite Aid, and DexCom have said BlueStar will become a part of their pharmacy coverage.

BlueStar features many of the same features that Diabetes Manager, the first WellDoc program, did which include getting alerts when their blood sugar level is too low or high and charts to detect trends. It suggests tips for getting blood sugar higher. However, what’s new is that BlueStar can provide feedback concerning medication dosage, give better coaching, and even recommendations to a doctor.

Just like any prescription, a doctor can prescibe BlueStar for a certain period of time in addition to medications. When a pharmacy receives that prescription, they will forward it on to WellDoc, who will have someone help the patient setup BlueStar on their device. BlueStar will calculate how much insulin a patient should take, depending on the attending physician’s recommendations, blood sugar levels, and how many carbs were eaten at a certain time. If a treatment regimen is deemed to be ineffective for a patient, a report will be sent to the doctor recommendation a new regimen.

Because diabetes truly affects so many across the country, this could mean a lot to many people. Of course, there are questions about how effective it can be, since many people may become unmotivated after using the app for a certain period of time. Time will only tell.

June 19, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

S Health Gives Comprehensive View of Health

So I just traded in my Nexus S for a Galaxy S2. I know, I know — the Galaxy S4 just came out, so I’m a little bit behind the game. Still, it’s a good upgrade, and I’m loving having it. However, when someone mentioned on Facebook how much they loved S Health, a feature on the new Galaxy S4, I had to check it out. And, of course, it made me a little bit jealous that my older Galaxy didn’t appear to have it.

So what is S Health? Well, it was launched last year, and the newest version was released with the S4, optimized to work with some of the senors that are integrated into the S4. While the S Health has many similar features to other devices on the market, such as FitBit — including a built-in pedometer and diet tracking — it also has some features that are rather unique.

The feature that stood out most to me was the Comfort Level. It tells you what your comfort level is, by pulling in the ambient temperature and humidity of the room you are in. While I am not totally sure what the point of knowing this would be, it’s cool that it can do that. You can track all your progress in a variety of different charts, and sync it with third-party blood pressure and glucose monitors. All of these things combined seem like they would give you a pretty comprehensive look at your health profile.

Overall, I wouldn’t buy the Galaxy S4 just for this feature, but it is a nice added bonus. If you already have a smart phone that works well for you, I’d go with a less expensive option for a wearable a device, rather than shelling out the cash for this. It also sounds like they have some more things in the work for S Health, so be on the lookout for that in the future!

Of all the wearable devices out there, do you have a favorite?

June 17, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Doctor Mom by Health Tap – Consult A Doctor Who’s Been There

Have you ever been to the doctor and felt like they totally had no idea what you were going through? I know I have. Which is understandable in some ways — I mean, not every doctor is going to have experience with every ailment or condition. However, when it comes to my son…I want to be able to talk to someone who has gone through similar experiences. Sometimes it’s nice for reassurance, or even to feel justified in being concerned about something.

By now, it might seem like I’m border-line obsessed with Health Tap, especially because today, I’m going to share with you their latest feature called Doctor Mom. This company just seems to be really innovative, and is churning out awesome services like crazy. However, I think this is definitely my favorite concept yet.

When you ask a question at Doctor Mom, the question is assigned to doctor, who also happens to be a mom who has raised children of her own. The website lists the following benefits of this program:

  • Emphathetic, compassionate, and caring answers
  • “Been there, done that” answers based on personal knowledge and experience
  • The ability to dive deeper into women’s issues

These doctors know what it is like to be pregnant and to have a child. I’m sure the majority of them have seen many different illnesses, and talked to many paranoid parents. And because of that, they are able to connect better with moms. I’m not saying that male doctors can’t show empathy and be great doctors — my primary care physician, and my son’s pediatrician, both of which I love, are males. But I still love this idea. 

I know I’m always texting my mom or sisters and asking them questions about my son, even though most of the time I know they don’t really have an answer. It’s just nice to get reassurance from someone that has “been there.”  However, I look forward to using this service in the feature!

June 14, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Lumosity: An Exercise Program For Your Brain

So often, we focus on our physical health, but neglect our mental health. All forms of dementia are devastating. Many people complain of brain fog. Thousands of people suffer from attention disorders. While I don’t claim to know the cure for any of these things (or even the cause) I do think that exercising the mind is just as important as exercising your body. I mean, if your brain fails, then your life ceases to exist. It’s a pretty important thing to take care of!

I saw a commercial today for a website called Lumosity.com. It sparked my interest, so I decided to check it out. The website says that it “turns neuroscience breakthroughs into fun, effective games” and it’s a way to “harness your brains neuroplasticity [the brain’s ability to grow and expand] and train your way into a brighter life.”

To be honest, it seems like it is set up a bit like an exercise website. When you sign up, you answer some questions about where you want changes to be made. Changes can be made in any of five categories, all of which have subcategories. These categories are memory, attention, speed, flexibility, and problem solving. You can select as many or as few of these categories as you want. After doing this, you can create an account and view your free and personalized training program, and you can personalize your training even further.

The program changes with you — as you get better at the challenges, you get newer ones. Each of the “sessions” include a variety of games to help you improve in the areas you initially selected. You get points very every game you do, to help you track your progress. The games are actually pretty fun, and challenging, and scientifically developed to help increase your brain function.

The basic version of Lumosity is free, but if you really want to get into the program, there are paid options. This gives you more games each day, more personalized training, and more. People spend hundreds, maybe even thousands, on personal training at a gym, as well as countless hours…so why not spend some of those valuable resources on making sure your brain is in tip-top shape? I thought this was a cool idea, and I think it could be a great resources for anyone wanting to exercise their mind. Apparently, 97% of Lumosity users improve after just 10 hours of training (which can be seen in the personalized tracking portion of the website.)_

Lumosity Brain Trainer is also available as a free download for iOS devices.

June 10, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

5 Health-Related Snapshots To Keep In Your Phone

Yesterday, I came across an interesting article on Pinterest about different snapshots you should keep in your phone’s photo album. While it mentioned quite a few random things, like reminders of where you parked, measurements for an air filter, or recipes from a book or a magazine, there was one related to health care that made me start thinking.

The article suggested taking photos of prescription bottles, so you don’t forgot the name of your prescription, or the prescription number. When I saw this, I started thinking about what other health-related things you could take pictures of. This, in fact, could be the simplest way to create a portable PHR.

So what are some things you could take photos of to store on your phone in case of an emergency? Here are a few ideas I came up with:

  • Picture of insurance card. Awhile back when we went to an Urgent Care clinic, we were asked to check-in using Phreesia. Instead of giving our insurance card, we just had to type in our insurance id number. I’m notorious for misplacing insurance cards, so if I ran into a situation like this, all would not be lost, if I had a copy of the insurance card on my phone!
  • Photos of medicine: As was suggested in the article that prompted this post, taking a photo of any bottles of medicine you have to take would be helpful as well. There have been several times that I’ve called a pharmacy while I’ve been out and about, and they’ve asked for my prescription number. Of course, I never know it. But having a photo with that information would be helpful. It might also be helpful to take picture of medicine you need to buy at the store.
  • Along the same lines, having an updated photo with any medications you or your child is currently taking. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been at a doctor and they ask what medication my son or I had been on recently, and I totally forget.
  • Emergency contacts. Obviously, you can store emergency contacts in your address book, but this would be a good way to make it so you don’t have to go scrolling through your contacts…especially when there actually is an emergency, where things can be hectic. This would also be an easy way to send numbers and names to someone else, in case that was necessary. It would be a lot easier to send one photo, rather than trying to copy and paste different phone numbers.
  • If you can have different folders of albums on your phone, you could store all these in one labeled “health” or “emergency.

There are a lot of apps that could probably do these same things, but for those that want to make things as simple as possible — I think this is a good route. There are obviously some downsides — mainly, it isn’t a secure way to store information. But it’s an interesting way to store information that you need to get to quickly. Can you think of any other snapshots that might be helpful to have?

June 5, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Discover The Best Health Apps With AppRx by Health Tap

Well, Health Tap has once again come out with a new and useful way to help people find legitimate healthcare information. In an effort to help people sift through the 40,000 health and exercise apps available, AppRx was created.

AppRx is a directory of apps that have been recommended and reviewed by some of the world’s leading physicians. If you’ve ever tried looking through apps, it can be hard to figure out which ones should be trusted. Because, not all health apps should be regarded as so.

It’s a simple idea, but one that I think is long overdue. I just checked it out, and it looks like it is very easy to navigate. You can search for specific apps, or select from a variety of categories. There are 23 different categories, that cover everything from ab workouts to mental health to pregnancy. You can even set it to show just iOS compatible apps or Android compatible apps. To be honest, I think that’s one of my favorite features! Back when I only had an Android device, I got so frustrated when I was searching for a certain kind of app, and only iOS apps would show up.

You can also sign up for a newsletter, which sends you an app of the week — this weekly publication highlights a certain app that comes highly recommended from physicians. So if you want to try out new apps that already have the seal of approval from a physician, this might be a good newsletter to subscribe to!

I am excited to use this website — not only for my personal use, but to help find apps to write about on here! There are already some app certification programs in the works, such as Happtique, but until apps start getting the mark of approval from that, AppRx is a great alternative. I use Health Tap a decent amount, and I do trust that information I get from there, so it will be nice to have this additional resource.

June 3, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Goggles Suggested for Stroke Monitoring

Now that we’ve talked about Google Glasses, I have found another interesting idea involving goggles. Anyone who is at risk for having a stroke, or knows someone that is, may want to listen up.

Did you know that many strokes go unnoticed? While yes, many times a stroke can be very severe, and even cause death, they aren’t always diagnosed as so. I’ve heard one too many times about someone who has been struggling from different health problems, specifically with their memory, only to find out they had suffered several mini strokes.

Not immediately diagnosing these strokes aren’t always the doctor’s fault – they can be difficult to diagnose. According to the Techpage article, between 50 and 70 thousand stroke victims are being diagnosed (and treated) for ear problems instead.

One of the ways to diagnose a stroke is through eye-movement tests. This can help to separate those who are experiencing ear problems or vertigo from those actually suffering a stroke. These tests can be better for identifying a stroke than doing an immediate MRI, however, they can be difficult to administer. That’s where the goggles suggested by a team at Johns Hopkins could prevent the misdiagnosis of nearly 10,000 strokes a year.

David Newman-Toker, professor of neurology at John Hopkins, has been heading up the group discussing these goggles. They would be “equipped with a high-speed webcam to record eye movements and an accelerometer to track movements.”

Although I don’t think these goggles have been created yet, it looks like it is definitely well on its way to production. Perhaps the creators of Google Glasses could work with Johns Hopkins, and create a superior product that could be used for this purpose – and maybe for other health related purposes. My paternal grandmother died from complications from a stroke, and my maternal grandmother suffered many mini-strokes that went undiagnosed for awhile, which have contributed to her dementia. Strokes are definitely serious, no matter how big or small they are, and these glasses could potentially save the lives (or the quality of life) of so many.)

May 31, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.