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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.

Map of Most Popular mHealth Apps Worldwide

AppAppeal.com recently posted a map that shows popular health apps in an interesting and interactive way. In the picture below, there is a key to show what the different colors mean. The map displays health apps popularity by country, and I think it was pretty neat to see the trends.

I wasn’t too surprised to see that WebMD is most popular in the United States. It’s definitely one of my favorites, and I feel like I’m constantly getting emails or updates about the website and the mobile app. Most of the apps on this list I have used or at least heard of, so I’d be interested in hearing why certain apps are more popular in different parts of the world. Is WebMD more focused on ailments that affect Americans? Is Livestrong, which appears to be used in the most countries world-wide (according to this map), more dynamic and trusted?

One thing that caught my eye was the popularity of ZocDoc across Russia and in parts of South America. I’ll be honest, I’ve never heard of it. After seeing it on here, I figured I should look it up and see what it was all about. Basically, you select your insurance, where you live, and what type of doctor you are looking for, and if any doctors in your area is participating with ZocDoc, it will pull up open appointments for that doctor. There weren’t any doctors in my area that were participating, but I could definitely see how this would be awesome. Whenever I look at my healthcare provider’s website and search for physicians, I always wish there was a way to just set up an appointment right then and there, or to be able to compare qualifications. It looks like there is also additional information about the education, reviews, and experience about doctors. I’m a little confused as to why it’s so popular in Russia and South America, because as far as I could see, it is based on American doctors, but perhaps there is an international version available?

Anyways, I just thought this was a neat visual, and that it was a good introduction to seeing what mHealth is doing around the world.

To view the actual map, complete with more details, go here.

November 20, 2012 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.

Managing Pain With New WebMD App

Yesterday, I received an email from WebMD with news of a new app. It caught me eye, so I decided to look a little more into it.

The app is called Pain Coach, with the subtitle “A Better Day Starts Here.” For anyone that deals with any type of chronic pain, that is definitely a tempting proposition.

When a person goes to the doctor for any type of persistent pain, the doctor is ineveitably going to ask “So, where does it hurt?” Having been in this position myself, I usually draw a blank and give a very generic area — which could indicate a whole variety of problems. This app would be great for a doctor to “prescribe” to a patient who might need a little help pinpointing exactly where the pain is, what the triggers are, and how to describe that pain to the doctor. It would definitely make doctor’s appointments go smoother, in my opinion.

So let’s take a look at what this app actually has to offer.

First off, it is only available for the iPhone — sorry Android users (myself included!) The email I got listed the following features:

  • Doctor-approved information customized to your condition
  • A personal journal that tracks your pain level on scale of 1 to 10, as well as your symptoms, treatments, and triggers. Email a PDF report of your pain history in time for your next doctor visit.
  • Goals to help you manage your pain.
  • Hundreds of daily tips to help you achieve your goals

Here a few screen shots, provided by iTunes:

This shows a basic summary of a particular day. There is definitely a lot of detail, probably more than most doctors really would care about…but it seems pretty easy to track.

This looks like the pain identification center…once again, it has lots of details. I think pinpointing specific times and dates can really show specific triggers for pain.

 

 

And finally, here’s a picture of a graph that can be created to map pain over a certain period of time. I imagine this might be something a physician would be interested in.

As with most mobile health apps, this is a great idea . . . if people actually remember to use it beyond the first few days after the initial download. I’ve been thinking a lot about a post over at Happy EMR Doctor about patient engagement. What is it going to take for patients to actually use medical apps on a long term basis? Either way, I think this is a neat app, and I hope it becomes available for Android phones soon!

This app is absolutely free, and can be downloaded for free here from the iTunes app store.

October 18, 2012 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 Health Communities Every Patient Should Use

Here are Smart Phone Health Care, I’ve focused a lot on mobile health apps. However, there are also a lot of great websites out there that have been designed to help the average person take control of their health. Some of these websites have mobile apps that accompany the sites, but even those that don’t can be accessed from a mobile browser. Here are some of the best patient information/health communities out there, at least in my opinion:

1. WebMD: I think this is quite possibly the most well-known health website out there, but it definitely should be included in this list. I recently reviewed their smart phone app, but I absolutely love their website. It’s the one I turn to most with my medical questions. Sometimes, they might provide too much information (only because it’s fuel for my hypochondriac-ism). This is definitely a one-stop medical website, as it has everything from search tools for symptoms and doctors, to medical news, to different categories with plenty of information, including healthy living, drugs and supplements, and parenting and pregnancy. I like that registered users are able to store and access health records on the site, and that, if a user allows it, healthcare providers can access the information. It’s also an interactive community, with blogs and forums, as well as the “ask the experts” feature. The site is available free of charge.

2. Vitals: When I was looking for an OB/GYN, I frequented this website. It’s a database of just about every physician around the country, and even has many international doctors listed. You can search by the doctor’s name, location, specialty, or medical need, so even if you don’t have a specific doctor in mind, you can find one that fits your needs. Users are encouraged to rate doctors on several different categories, specifically on ease of appointment, promptness, courteous staff, accurate diagnosis, beside manner, amount of time spent with patient, and follow up. It also shows which hospitals a doctor is associated with, their location, education, and other languages spoken. There’s also a cool feature where you tell the website what symptoms you have, and based on that information, a doctor is recommended for you. You can even add in an insurance filter, so you don’t waste time calling someone who doesn’t take your insurance (believe me, I know how frustrating that can be!)

3. Livestrong: This website always is among the first two or three search results whenever I have been Googling anything health related. I’ve come to really like this site, and the detailed information it provides. It was founded by Lance Armstrong and Richard Rosenblatt since March of 2008, and has been going strong ever since. The site was created to help people make good and health decisions, give inspiration, and a provide an outlet of reliable information. From the moment you enter the website, it is a customized experience — you select your gender, and then you are brought to a page with gender-specific information. Livestrong has SO much information that is pertinent to just about anyone and any topic. I’ve found ideas for substitutes for different ingredients, calorie information, and general health news. Livestrong.com also has a great mobile app where you can track your calories and exercise.

4. Healthline: I’ve never actually used this website, but from what I have read, it is highly recommended. It is supposed to be an alternate option for going to the doctor. You can type in your symptoms and suggested diagnoses appear, and you can search for medical advice. There is a lot of information on this page about different conditions, so if you have been diagnosed with something, this would be a good place to go to find out more information. Like all the other websites I have mentioned, advice is free of charge. There is an option to sign up for alerts when information on specific topics are added, and even when something by a specific doctor or writer is updated. It is similar to WebMD in its function, but definitely has a different feel to it in my opinion.

5. iMedix: This is a social media, health community where there are support group for different conditions, where people can ask questions of other users, as well as search the large database of information that is available. Users can create profiles and message other users, and there is a great list of question and answers. I am a member of a “birth club” for the month my son was born on BabyCenter.com, and it’s just kind of nice to have a support group of people going through similar situations. I could see similar comfort coming from the support groups available on this site, which range from fitness, to depression, to the swine flu. There are some great search features, and I think it seems like a very well-managed health community. I love how it incorporates social media, and allows users to really customize their experience.

August 22, 2012 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.com Goes Mobile With Well-Developed App

One of my favorite health-related websites is WebMD.com, so of course I had to download the app when it became available. While I was disappointed that the WebMD Baby app isn’t available for Android, there is a WebMD app for both Apple and Android platforms. Here is the description provided on Google Play Store:

WebMD for Android helps you with your decision-making and health improvement efforts by providing mobile access 24/7 to mobile-optimized health information and decision-support tools including WebMD’s Symptom Check, Drugs & Treatments, First Aid Information and Local Health Listings. WebMD the App also gives you access to first aid information without having to be connected wirelessly — critical if you don’t have Internet access in the time of need.

For the most part, I really like the app. It is easy to navigate and has a lot of different features. You can sign up for an account with WebMD if you don’t have one, or link an already existing account. Either way, it doesn’t take too long to get into the app.

There are five main sections to the app, which were mentioned in the description above. They can be accessed from the front page of the app, which looks like this:

When selecting the “Symptom Checker” for the first time, I was asked my age, zip code, and gender. I’m not sure if it would ask this if any of the other sections were accessed first. I’m guessing this information is asked just so results can be more customized to your demographic.

I really like the symptoms checker. A digital figure of a body (male or female, depending on what you selected originally) where you select the part of your body that is currently of concern. From there, a list of potential diagnoses come up. Unfortunately, this portion for the app rarely works for me. It says it cannot connect without an Internet connection, even though my phone is connected through the Internet and my data plan. Because of this, I can’t really vouch for the usefulness of this, but if I ever can get it to work, I think it would be kind of neat. As such, I typically select the “list” view, where a list of body parts comes up. It’s nice to be able to scroll through and see different illness and read more about them, including the symptoms. However, as I mentioned in my post about the Internet and hypochondriacs, I have spent far too much time browsing the symptoms. That’s not the apps fault though!

Under the conditions tab, there are a few options. First, My Conditions. Here, you can login to a WebMD account and save conditions you are currently diagnosed with, drugs being used, and first aid information. Then there is the top searches tab, which shows just that — the top searched conditions. And finally, there is an A-Z list of all conditions that have available information on WebMD.

Drugs and treatments has the options as My Conditions does, but there is an additional section called Pill ID. I think this is a pretty neat little feature. You can figure out what type of pill something is (like, maybe you have to take several different pills and you’ve put them into a pill box, only to forget later on which pill is which) by selecting the shape, color, or imprint. There are a lot of different shapes and colors to choose from, and the option is available to type in any letters or numbers on a pill.

The First Aid section gives detailed information on how to treat various things, from asthma attacks to heart attacks to jellyfish stings. These are, of course, only supposed to be used as guidelines, and if there is a true emergency, it says to call 911 immediately. This is a great reference guide though, even if its an emergency, because I believe that its important to try and do something while waiting for medical assistance to arrive. I like this feature a lot.

Finally there is the local health listings. Here, you can search for a physician, pharmacy, or hospital near you. You must have a name or speciality in mind when selecting either of these, but from there, it will bring up a list of names, hospitals, or pharmacies nearby with all the necessary information (phone number, address, map, etc.). Having traveled a good amount in the past few months, and in some cases needed to find a pharmacy in an unfamiliar area, this would have been really helpful to have!

Overall, its a great app. I’d even go as far as saying its a necessary one for everyone to have on their phone. I think it is unfortunate that, beyond the first aid section, an Internet connection is required, but beyond that, I don’t have any complaints!

Download here for Apple devices

Download here for Android

June 27, 2012 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.

$80 Android Phone Changing the Smartphone Market

At first glance $80 for a smartphone doesn’t really seem like that amazing of a deal.  Especially when you consider that is has a smaller screen, less processing power, and fewer megapixels in the camera.  But, when you consider that this is the price for the phone without any type of contract it becomes a little bit more interesting.

The phone is the Android powered IDEOS from the Chinese company Huawei.  It was released earlier this year in Kenya and has already been bought by 350,000+ Kenyans.  In an area of the world that is stricken by poverty, this device is bringing the wonders of the smartphone to people who could never have afforded such a luxury in the past.

In comparison to the major smartphones on the market right now, namely the iPhone4, DroidX2, and Blackberry Bold, it does not have the same level of technology.  The screen is relatively small, though larger than the screen on the Blackberry Bold.  The RAM is half of that of the major smartphones, and the battery life is worse as well.

However, when you consider the cost it is incredibly reasonable.  The IDEOS sells for about $80 with no contract, compared to the iPhone4 at $800, the DroidX2 at $700, and the Blackberry Bold at $600 without a contract.  That means you can get a phone for 85-90% less than the big boys.

It is also uses the Android OS which means that the sky is limit with 300,000+ apps.  The open source software makes it possible for apps to be developed in developing countries in ways that would never be possible with Apple or Blackberry’s stringent requirements.  This makes these cheap phones even more useful in these poor countries.

Apps are being developed to help farmers better market their products, and even track diseases that can destroy farming which is a huge part of most African nation’s economies.

In the sphere of this blog, I have already written about all kinds of apps and gadgets being developed specifically with Africa in mind.  This phone makes those devices that much more useful.  One of the most exciting of these is Medkenya which is essentially the same as WebMD here in the states.  It provides information and resources to people that would never have had them in the past.

By encouraging the rapid spread of smartphone usage in Africa it is not unreasonable to think more apps could be developed to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases or maybe even an HIV-testing peripheral that would do wonders to help slow the spread of that terrible disease.

We already take a lot of technology for granted in the US, and that is understandable.  We use our phones for games, and news, and sports scores, and even to buy our coffee at Starbucks now.  The difference for the people in these developing countries is that his technology can save their lives quite literally by providing medical assistance at a level they never would have had without smartphones.  This idea is summed up quite well by Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Kenya’s Minister of Information and Communication:

In the beginning of the 21st century, the mobile telephone was the reserve of an elite few and the gadget’s sole purpose was to make phone calls and send text messages. Today, all this has changed and the mobile phone is no longer a luxury but a necessity. By morphing and adopting into various aspects of our lives, the mobile phone has gone beyond its original purpose of phone calls and text messages and it now serves as a bank, a computer a radio and a television set among other things. In a nutshell, it has penetrated every aspect of our lives.

Personally, I have never seen a cell phone as a necessity despite the fact that I have one and really value all of the features that it gives me.  The difference is that I live somewhere with plenty of doctors and hospitals, and everything else I could ever want.  These inexpensive cellphones are providing an improvement in the quality of life for these people that would otherwise take decades more of development.

August 26, 2011 I Written By

Health Related Mobile Applications Expected to Triple by 2012; Mobile Health Market Worth $1.7 Billion by 2014

I am well aware of the popularity of any number of apps, and especially healthcare apps in all of their many forms.  However, even I underestimated how big this industry really is.

An article about WebMD really put it all in perspective for me.  You can read the entire article here, but here is the major stuff:

According to a report by Pyramid Research, more than 200 million health applications for mobile devices are being used by doctors and patients today. The number is expected to cross 600 million by the year 2012. Another report claims that the mobile health annual market will be worth $1.7 billion by 2014.There are already several apps available in the market, most of which focus on disseminating health-related information to users. Epocrates, the leading drug reference source, was identified as the most popular health app among providers by the Pyramid Research. The app is used by healthcare providers as their point of care drug reference site…

…It is not just health care providers, but their patients who are turning to the mobile apps. Healthagen’s iTriage has information on symptoms, diseases, and medical procedures. The app is also a directory of nationwide hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies. It helps users search for and gives them turn-by-turn directions to the nearest choice among its database of over 750,000 physicians or 350 specialty clinics…

…The Medscape app was recently named the most downloaded free medical app of the year for iPhone by Apple on its iTunes Rewind 2010 featured list of Apps. The app provides a comprehensive reference on more than 6,000 drugs, 3,500 diseases, 600 procedures and 80 tables and protocols; gives daily medical news and alerts; and is part of WebMD’s Continuing Medical Education activities. The company recently expanded the reach of its popular MedScape app to both the iPad and Android devices. Since its release, earlier last year, for the iPhone and BlackBerry devices, the Medscape Mobile app has registered over 700,000 healthcare professionals.

Among other apps, iPharmacy was selected as the No. 1 medical app of 2010 of Apple App Store with its medication guide on 10,686 drugs. The Pocket Lab Values app was the highest rated iPhone lab value App for being a useful reference point for students, doctors, and nurses by providing access to lab values, clinical information, critical lab values, differential diagnoses, tube colors, and useful websites. Another app, iMeds – The Medication Reference claims to be the most complete medication app with over 7,300 FDA approved medications and to be the only app to provide full prescribing info.

The really crazy thing is that the development of apps is still essentially in its infancy so who knows what we may have in the future.

April 20, 2011 I Written By