Original Publish Date: August 8, 2017
It is estimated that 77% of the American population owns a smartphone. It is also estimated that more than 85% of physicians and practices use mobile devices for daily job performance. In 2013 only 50% of physicians reported using mobile EHR apps, but by the end of 2016 that percentage rose to 78%. The usage of mobile devices and apps in healthcare is generally referred to as mHealth, or Mobile Healthcare. It is projected that the mHealth market will reach $21.5 billion globally by 2018, and, as it stands today, there is more than 259,000 mHealth apps in existence globally.
In the words of C. Lee Ventola, MS “The use of mobile devices by health care professionals (HCPs) has transformed many aspects of clinical practice. Mobile devices have become commonplace in health care settings, leading to rapid growth in the development of medical software applications (apps) for these platforms. Numerous apps are now available to assist HCPs with many important tasks, such as: information and time management; health record maintenance and access; communications and consulting; reference and information gathering; patient management and monitoring; clinical decision-making; and medical education and training.”
mHealth apps provide a wealth of resources for patients, physicians, and students alike. Patients can utilize mHealth apps to manage all facets of their healthcare. In fact, most smartphones now come pre-loaded with an Android or IOS health app, such as Samsung Health or Apple Health. Or, patients can choose from a variety of other health and fitness apps, several of which have the ability to integrate with other apps and provide the patient with a more comprehensive view of their overall health. If the patient prefers to select a more specific fitness app, they could select an app that best fits their goals and interests. For example, if the patient wants to use a running app, they could download the C25K, or Couch to 5K, app which helps individuals gradually work their way up to being able to run a 5k race. For something with a little more excitement but still falls into the running category, the patient could select Zombies, Run! instead, which is a more creative and interactive way to keep users running. If you prefer cycling to running, Strava would be beneficial for you. For weight lifting, Strong Life 5x5 is recommended, and Motion Traxx plays music that matches the intensity of the user’s workout.
Patients can also access apps that are specific to certain health conditions or diseases. Sugar Sense and Blue Star are apps designed with diabetes patients in mind, whereas AsthmaMD (Android only) focuses on patients with Asthma. Alternatively, FirstDerm allows patients to anonymously ask questions about skin conditions or rashes and receive a response from a qualified health professional within 8-48 hours.
If you’re too busy to go to the doctor, a telehealth app may be a great option for you. Some of the most popular telehealth apps include AmWell, Doctor on Demand, and LiveHealth. Pediatric telehealth apps, such as PediaQ, are also available. For a small fee, Telehealth apps allow patients to video chat with a healthcare provider and receive treatment without ever stepping foot in the doctor’s office.
Patients also have the ability to access their patient portals through apps specific to their physician’s EHR. eClinicalWorks (Ecw) has titled their patient portal app Healow and Epic has named their app MyChart. For new moms eCW offers the Healow Mom app, but BabyBump is also very commonly used.
In addition to the aforementioned apps, patients can also manage their prescriptions using the CVS, or other preferred pharmacy’s, app; get First Aid guidance from the Red Cross app; easily determine which physicians are in your insurance network using ZocDoc; securely store medical records on your phone with Microsoft’s Health Vault app, which is a great options for patients with chronic conditions; and have physicians record instructions, or health information, and set reminders for patients using the 22Otters app.
As for physicians and students, there are several apps available for informational, educational and research purposes. Some of the top rated apps that fall into this category are Epocrates, Docphin, Pepid, WISQARS, Taber’s Medical Dictionary, RealCME, and Meducation4.
A great training tool for new nurses, or nurses that just want to stay sharp, would be NurseTabs:Medsurg. NurseTabs lists approximately 340 common diseases and conditions broken down by body system and lists potential complications and important information for each one.
Students in the surgical field can utilize TouchSurgery which walks students through procedures step-by-step using 3-D imaging. This helps students become familiar with what to expect during the actual surgery.
For prescription resources, physicians can use MedScape or Micromedex to help determine appropriate dosage amounts, check for adverse reactions with other medications, and identify pills by description (size, color, markings, etc.).
AHRQeSS is designed to assist primary care physicians with screening, counseling and preventative services.
CRMD can be used in emergency situations when it is known that a patient has a pacemaker but the patient cannot remember which type, or if the patient is incapacitated and unable to say. Either way, CRMD can identify the pacemaker by analyzing and X-Ray and using algorithms to determine which type of pacemaker the patient has.
Figure-1 is considered to be the “Instagram” for physicians, in which physicians can share pictures and medical cases with other physicians for educational and collaborative purposes. Don’t worry, patient consent is required and PHI is not included.
Finally, as previously mentioned, physicians also have the ability to access their EHR straight from their mobile devices, which not only provides physicians with convenience, but also increases accessibility while they are on the go.
These mHealth apps are only the tip of the iceberg, there are hundreds of thousands of other mHealth apps that exist for our use and convenience. With the technology and apps available to us through our mobile devices, the world is, quite literally, at our fingertips.
Sarah is a Practice Manager at Medic Management Group, LLC. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Health Care Administration at Kent State University and graduated magna cum laude. Since then she has worked exclusively with private practice physicians.
Sarah joined Medic Management Group in June 2015 and currently provides administrative oversight to a small practice, assists with new practice start-ups, and other client and corporate projects. She also provides clients with human resource management, payroll, and acts a supporting manager for other MMG Practice Administrators.