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Apple’s October 22nd Mac and iPad Event – What’s Coming?

I was excited to read this Techcrunch article on the next Apple event that is scheduled for Tuesday, October 22nd in San Francisco. Of course, Apple always tries to keep their announcements private, but the tech press has done a good job getting the leaks just the same. So, I was interested to see what might be coming out of Apple.

The unfortunate part of the Techcrunch post is that there was no game changers listed in the post. Basically, a little bit faster, a nicer screen, better resolution, and a small change in weight. None of those really impact how you use the device. Sure, they’re all nice and in aggregate we gain some benefit, but it’s nothing that will change how we’re using the devices today.

Of course, Techcrunch was just trying to guess what Apple’s going to announce. So, I hope that they’re totally wrong. I hope that Apple comes out with a cool wristband technology that changes the way we consider the battle for the wrist. Something new and different. Sure, there are some apps that are limited by the processing power of a phone or by the screen resolution, but all of that will come.

Anyone else have predictions on what Apple could announce that would provide an amazing opportunity for healthcare?

October 16, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit.

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.

WebMD Introduces New Allergy App

WebMD sure is trying to make a name for themselves in the mHealth world. In addition to the other apps they released last year, they just added another app to that suite. This time, it focuses on allergies.

I think that everyone probably knows someone that has some kind of allergy, or even suffers from one themselves. My husband has seasonal allergies, and my son has several food allergies. While this app is geared more toward people who suffer from allergies themselves, I think just about anyone could benefit from it.

The app features a few different sections, which include:

  • Allergy Forecast: Allergy levels specific for your location that are regularly updated. You can also look up the “allergy forecast” for places you are visiting.
  • Personalized Forecasts and Tips: After indicating which allergies you and/or your family suffer from, the app will give you tips on how to manage those allergies.
  • Allergies 101: This includes WebMD’s library of allergy related resources — articles, photos, and videos. It focuses on seven categories: Outdoor, indoor, skin, drug, food, insect bites and stinks, and latex.
  • Timely Alerts: This helps you plan your days, and know if certain triggers will be worse, according to the allergy forecast.

The part of this app I think makes this one everyone should download is Allergies 101. You never know when you will be around someone when they have an allergic reaction to something, and being able to quickly access information may be important. As a parent, and especially because I have a child with allergies, I feel it’s important to be able to access that information at a moment’s notice. It would be easier to go straight to this app, rather than messing around with Google.

It’s fun to see WebMD coming out with new apps fairly regularly. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big fan of WebMD, and I love using their apps.

This app can be downloaded for iOS for free here.

April 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.

Sodium 101 Helps Combat Excessive Sodium Intake

Whenever we go to the store, my husband meticulously analyzes the nutrition label on the food we buy, specifically looking at the amount of sodium in the product. While it makes shopping take a little longer, I’m glad he does it. Especially after reading this article about how studies are showing that too much salt may trigger certain autoimmune diseases.

But, it’s not always so easy to look at the labels. Yet keeping track of a person’s sodium intake is so important. The Mayo Clinic reports that Americans should have less than 2,300 mg a day (and under 1,500 mg if you are 51 or older,) and the average American gets around 3,400 mg each day. It definitely sounds like a problem to me.

So that’s where Sodium 101 comes in. This is an app created to combat the problem of too much sodium, and help people make healthier choices. It makes it easier to make low-sodium choices, especially when having take out. The app includes tons of features, such as:

  • Tracking sodium intake, specific for your age group
  • Track sodium in packaged food
  • View sodium content of takeout food
  • Listing of over 2,000 food items in popular takeout chains
  • A converter that helps calculate the amount of sodium in any product
  • Track progress
  • Share totals on social networks

Keep in mind, this is an app created in Canada, so not all the information will probably be fit for someone in the United States. However, I think that anyone could make some use of it.  I’m not sure why anyone would want to share their daily sodium totals on Facebook or Twitter, but to each his own I guess.

My sodium intake is actually something I’ve been trying to pay a lot closer attention to when I make meals for my family and me. This app could be really helpful for that, and helping me make better choices. The app has some great visuals though, and it looks nice.

It’s only available for iOS devices, but, it is free. Download it here.

March 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.

T2 Mood Tracker Updated and Wins Award

Several months ago, The Department of Defense released LifeArmor, an app created for military families coping with stress.  T2 Mood Tracker, released in 2010, was also created by a department in the Department of Defense. This app was created to help people, particularly those in the military, track their emotions over time and be able to use it to discuss with their healthcare provider. Although this app has been available for awhile, it recently had some updates.

The app was originally created for military personnel, but it has become very popular with people not in the military as well. It comes with six pre-loaded “issues” that can be tracked, though customized ones can be added as well. The six included are anxiety, depression, general well-being, head injury, post traumatic stress disorder, and stress. After selecting the issues, the user simply moves the slider to select which word describes them best at any point.

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After doing this, the app will automatically graph the results, and a user can also write down notes throughout the day, to give insight to why certain times were worse/better than other times.

With the recent update, users can do quite a few new things, which include:

  • PDF or CSV generated reports that can be printed or email for a provider
  • Data can be backed up to a phone’s SD card
  • Find psychological health support in your area
  • Set reminders to update moods
  • Results are shown in easy to read graphs

I really like this app, from what I’ve seen, and I think the updates make it even more user friendly, and helpful for those that are using it. I’m glad that it is now being encouraged for people in and outside of the military to use it as well.

This app also won first place in the general wellness category of the Apps4Army competition. It can be downloaded for Android and iOS devices, free of charge.

February 28, 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 Beam Toothbrush Transforms Dental Hygiene

A few years ago, an old roommate of mine informed me that I grind my teeth almost constantly as I slept. After talking with some people, I discovered that this, combined with some dental problems I encountered in high school, could be the underlying cause of many of my health problems. Primarily, migraines. Before that point, I didn’t realize just how much dental issues can affect other parts of the body.

So when I saw the Beam Toothbrush,  I was pretty excited. There’s so many devices out there to help improve people’s health, but I’ve never seen anything that really focuses on teeth brushing, which is essential for good health.

The Beam Toothbrush is a toothbrush that monitors oral hygiene, and sinks the data to a smart phone app. The app will then track the data for all activated brushes, create graphs with the data, and inform the user of certain things, like a missed brushing time. Each brush can only be assigned to one user, for obvious reasons, but several users can be tracked on the app.

From the looks of the website, and just the idea behind it, I think this is a toothbrush that is aimed toward children. It seems like a good way for parents to see if their child is really brushing their teeth. Because ask any parent — most kids aren’t the best brushers out there. I know I wasn’t.

I like the idea behind it, and I’ll be interested to see if it takes off at all. I’m not so sure I’d spend 49.99 on a toothbrush that wasn’t an electric one, especially for a child, but it might be an well-made investment for those who have children that forget to brush. Knowing that your parent has access to your teeth brushing “records” may be good motivation for some not to forget.

It comes in either blue or pink, and runs on AA batteries. It is a manual toothbrush, so it’s not going to be as fancy as ones like the Sonicare brand (which is what I use, and love), but it seems perfect for children. It is available for 49.99, and replacement heads are 3.99. Dentists and oral surgeons can also purchase them for resell. The app is only available on iOS systems.

February 27, 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.

Amiigo: A New Wearable Device About To Hit The Market

Wearable fitness devices are a dime-a-dozen. Whenever I go to the store, or read up on the latest mHealth news, I feel like I’m seeing another one. Just like I said about food diaries, the device really needs to have features that set it apart from others. Amiigo is one that’s just about to be released, and it definitely is something I think people are going to be interested in.

Started by a team of Salt Lake City Entrepreneurs, Amiigo is a Bluetooth fitness device that is be worn as a bracelet and shoe clip. The team was promoting it on Indiegogo and reach their initial goal very quickly. Now, the product is available for pre-order, and in hopes of reaching their $350,000 goal, the team is hosting a contest — the top twocolors voted for on their Indiegogo page will go to production if that goal is reached. They are only about $9,000 away, so if you are interested, be sure to go check out the page.

Not sure if you are interested in voting and investing? Here’s some information about this neat advice

Amiigo 5

Amiigo is sweat-proof and recognizes more than 100 exercises. The device had sensors in the bracelet that detect upper body movements, and the shoe clip detects lower body movements. It uses these sensors to determine what the users full body workout was, and sends the information to the mobile app.

Some other key features include:

  • Tracking Physiological Response: It tracks things like heart rate, blood oxygen level, skin temperature, and calories burned
  • Sharing With Others: Workouts can be shared on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, where friends and family can post encouragement.
  • Power Saving and Comfortable: It has a battery charge of two or more days, and is adjustable so it fits comfortably on just about everyone

From what I can tell, this is going to be an awesome wearable fitness device. I like that it can automatically detect what exercise you are doing and calculate information based on that. It is also available for both Android and iOS. If I had the money, I’d definitely donate some to get this product out quicker, but if you do and this sounds like something you would like, head on over here.

February 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.

Health IT Positively Affects Childhood Obesity

According to a study done by Pediatrics recently, more than one-third of children in the United States are overweight or obese. That’s a very scare figure, because that definitely increases the child’s chance of diseases like type-2 diabetes, and adult obesity. The authors of the study also noted that childhood obesity is often times undertreated and goes undiagnosed. As sad as it is, I have seen this

The study set out to see if Health IT may improve the “quality, efficiency and reach of chronic disease management,” according to this article. According to another article about this study, some of the parts of the study that are most relevant towards health IT included that “telemedicine was as effective as in-person counseling at reducing BMI and that text messaging and phone support were associated with weight loss maintenance.”

Combating childhood obesity is something I am very passionate about. As a child, and into my teenage years, I could have been classified as extremely overweight — probably even obese. While I’ve worked very hard to beat the statistics, and get my weight down to a now healthy weight, it is something that truly has affected my entire life to this day. And the thing is, when I was at the unhealthy weight that I was, no one said anything. No doctor, my parents, or anyone. Sure, I was encouraged to take a PE class here and there, and perhaps not take seconds — but no one saw that problem for what it was. Because of the things I went through, I want more than anything to prevent my own children from becoming overweight themselves. Reading this study, and seeing how health IT can positively affect childhood obesity was neat. While I think too much screen time can really contribute to the problem, I’m glad that there efforts out there to try and get kids involved in their own health, particularly by using electronics — something that most kids love. I hope that more Health IT developers will see the importance of creating apps, programs, and devices geared toward children. I couldn’t find any, but it would be cool if there were exercise apps that kids could put on their iPods that are similar to ones that adults have, but that are geared toward exercises more children participate in.  In my research, I found a few health IT apps and websites aimed toward kids that I think could be helpful:

Food Hero:
This is a game that was created by HealthSocial, a non-profit project based at the Children’s Hospital in Boston. To win the game, the child must “become” a food hero. To do this, the child must make their character make healthy choices, like eating healthy food and exercising, and earning gold along the way. If the character eats too much, physical challenges become more difficult. However, if too little is eaten, the character has difficult participating as well. The goal is to ultimately eat healthy meals. It seems like this game would be a great visual for children to see what happens when you don’t have balanced meals.

Food ‘N Me:
This website was created to promote healthy living in children. It has interactive games, quizzes like “What Food Am I.” This quiz has the child choose the foods they have eaten throughout the day, and it gives a rating at the bottom of the screen, telling the child how balanced it was. At the end of the quiz, it tells you what kind of food you are, based on your choices. For instance, if you eat primarily grains, it will say you are a bagel. The website also features the game Smash Your Food, which is also available on mobile devices, and I’ll talk about next.

Smash Your Food:
This app was on Michelle Obama’s “Apps for Health Kids” contest. Whether the person is using it online or on a mobile device, it works about the same. You get to “smash” foods — from milkshakes, hamburgers, to healthy, homemade meals. — and it tells you what it is made of.  The goal of it is to encourage children (and their parents) to understand what is in their meals, and to make healthy choices at home and on the go. It can be accessed at the Food ‘N Me website, or downloaded for the iPhone or iPad here for 2.99.

February 13, 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.

Five More Pregnancy Apps for Moms-To-Be By Mobile Mom

Last year, I wrote about must have pregnancy apps for moms-to-be. Recently, I’ve come across a suite of pregnancy apps that I want to add to the must have list.

Mobile Mom — the company behind these apps — aims to put “pregnancy info on your mobile device — anytime, anywhere.” And after downloading and looking at the apps, they basically have everything covered from pre-conception to pregnancy. These are the six apps that can be downloaded:

  • Ovulation Calendar

    This app helps a woman track which days she is most fertile and likely to conceive. It actually gives the six  most fertile days during a month, as well as for the next several months. One feature I liked was that it tells you when the baby’s due date is, if you happened to conceive during that time. Since it gives you dates for about five months, it is a nice visual and good for planning.

  • Pregnancy Test

    No, this isn’t an actual pregnancy test. I don’t think anyone would want to use it if it was. However, if a woman suspects she is pregnant, this app asks several questions pertaining to common early-pregnancy symptoms. After the questions are asked, the app generates the likelihood that a woman is pregnant. I’ve seen similar “quizzes” online, so it’s not totally new, but it looks interested. Obviously, there’s more certain ways to know if you are pregnant, but in those early days where a positive pregnancy test may not show up, it might be nice to have. Though, I’d hate to get my hopes up from this app saying I was probably pregnant, only to have it not be true!

  • Due Date Calculator

    Once a pregnancy is confirmed, this app tells you when your estimate due date is, how long you’ve been pregnant, likely conception date, and when a particular trimester will end. It’s pretty simple. You can also put in your due date, and it will calculate backwards this information.

  • Weight Gain Calculator

    This is probably most women’s least favorite thing to talk about during pregnancy, but it is important to make sure weight gain isn’t too little or too much. I had a website that I went to weekly where I put my weight in and it told me if I was gaining too little, too much, or just the right amount, which I really liked. Having it as a mobile app would have been nice though, because it was just more convenient.

  • Baby Names

    Pretty explanatory, this app just has a big database of baby names. I recommend having something like this on your phone, just for those times when you have some extra time to look at names. It sure beats carrying around one of those big baby name books! This app has more search options than a lot of the apps I’ve used and seen, especially since it is free. You can search by boy or girl names, or by more unique searches, like by a specific initial or meaning.

  • Pregnancy Talk

    This app actually hasn’t been released yet, but I think it would the app I’d be most likely to use. Even though it’s been almost a year since my son was born, I frequent the message boards on BabyCenter.com, just to connect with other moms going through the same things I am. From what I can tell, this app will have a similar function.

To be honest, I feel like some of these apps could have been condensed into one — mainly the first three. I’m not a big fan of downloading an app if it has very few functions, and would be far more likely to download one with those first three feature combined into one. Obviously, most of these apps aren’t really new ideas, but they are well-designed, and if you want all your pregnancy apps to be from the same maker…these aren’t a bad option at all. Some of them have some unique features, which makes them stand out from other apps. I think the fact that all of these are free are the most attractive part of these apps, because many times, the best pregnancy

For the iOS apps, go here

For the Android apps, go here 

February 4, 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.

CDC Releases Influenza App

Flu season is in full swing, and if the amount of news articles I’ve read about it is any indicator of how serious it has been, I’m surprised no one I know has gotten it yet. In an attempt to help educate people about what’s going on, and how to prevent getting the flu themselves, the CDC launched an app totally dedicated to it. It’s name is plain and simple — CDC Influenza. 

It seems as if the CDC is getting rather tech-savvy, with the recent release of their new mobile app. And apparently, the CDC feels that the influenza outbreak this year is serious enough to warrant it’s own mobile app. Unfortunately, unlike the CDC app, it’s only available for iOS devices, so anyone with an Android phone or tablet is out of luck. Luckily, my husband and I just purchased an iPad mini, so I can actually review it.

Before I downloaded it, I saw this article about the app. It talks about the mixed reviews of the app, but how it is overall helpful. I found myself feeling the same way as I browsed through the options. Here is the menu, and what the app has to offer:

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Overall, I found everything to be very information-heavy. I found pages of information that I didn’t really want to read. There are a lot of different sections though, so anyone that is interested in the flu might find it useful. I think it’s good that the app includes information about the vaccination and the safety of it, because I know that’s an issue of concern with a lot of people.

I did like that there was a map which showed where the flu was, and how widespread it was. As you can see below, it’s pretty much everywhere. That’s enough to make me want to coop up inside until Spring!

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The app seemed a little bit slow and jumpy to me. It seemed like every few minutes, a box that says “Updating Content…” would pop up, and for the next few minutes, the app was unusable. I’m not sure why that happened — perhaps there is just a lot of important updates?

This definitely seems more like an app for physicians to download. I think it’s probably important for them to be informed about the current situation and be able to access this information while visiting with patients. I could imagine our physician using this app on his tablet to answer questions. For just anyone though, I think this isn’t the most user-friendly app, as it’s more just informative, unless the person is really interested in learning about influenza.

January 23, 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.