Smartphone Apps for Health

woman holding smartphoneI don’t own a cellphone or a Smartphone and was amazed to see my friend’s using them to monitor their health  while they were visiting.  I went online and did some exploring and what I found is fascinating.  Without doubt the online health‐information environment is going mobile.

Roughly 85 percent of  American adults have cell phones but most do not have Smartphones (iPhones, Blackberries and Androids); the figure for Smartphone use in the US  is about 20 percent.  According to a new report from research2guidance in 2015 there will be 1.4 billion Smartphone users and 500 million of them will use health applications.

The Pew Internet Project’s latest survey of American adults, conducted in association with the California HealthCare Foundation, revealed 17 percent of cell phone users look up health or medical information on their device. And many also have health-related apps on their Smartphones to get nutrition information, count calories, calculate body mass index and learn new exercises.

“I was surprised to see that almost one in ten cell phone users have a health app. I thought it would be lower,” said Susannah Fox, Associate Director of Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and author of the report.

4 smartphones The creation of Smartphone  applications related to health and health care is  moving quickly. As of February 2010, there were nearly 6,000 such apps within the Apple AppStore. Of these, 73% were intended for use by consumer or patient end-users, while 27% were targeted to health care professionals.

Medical professionals are proving to be the early adopters with 64% of US physicians already carrying Smartphones, as do 99% of residents. Pocket sized Smartphones  equipped with applications are clinical tools  that are  rapidly being adopted by physicians for transferring medical information. Apps geared to doctors include alerts, medical reference tools, diagnostic tools, continuing medical education, and patient records programs. Consumer-oriented apps include those for medication compliance, mobile and home monitoring, home care, managing conditions, and wellness/fitness.


The November 2010 issue of the Harvard Health Letter describes some of the highest-rated and most widely used smartphone iPhone and Android apps for common health problems. The apps reviewed are divided into Fitness and weight control, Diabetes management, High blood pressure, Stress Reduction, First aid,Hearing and vision assist, Not for doctors only. I homed in on the Stress Reduction apps reviews and discovered these two:

If you’re really stressed, keep an eye out for iBreathe, developed by the Department of Defense’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology. Designed for troops under the pressures of combat, it uses videos to coach you through deep-breathing exercises and can be used as an adjunct to professional therapy. You should be able to get it on your iPhone or Android early in 2011.

Rage Eraser is the app for you if you’re mad as hell and can’t take yourself any more. You may want to start by using the “Rant” feature to record your next tirade and listen to yourself after you cool down. The app can help you track the situations that trigger your anger and identify the distorted thoughts that feed it. There are male and female voices to talk you down from a tantrum in progress as well as techniques for transforming your anger into more productive emotions over time. It’s $4.99 for iPhones only.

Survey: Health Apps a Big Hit on Smartphones
How Smartphones Are Changing Health Care for Consumers and Providers (877k) PDF

The times they are a changing — doctors are always on the move from hospital, to office, to home and the mobile device goes with them. Personal visits will never disappear — stethoscope, bedside EKG, ultrasound, pulse oximetry, blood-pressure monitor, glucose monitor mean doctors will have access to these types of monitoring capabilities when they tend patients at in their office, in the hospital, or in the patient’s home.

Do you own a Smartphone?
If you do, then do you use it for any health related purposes?

Related post:
The Social Impact-of the Internet on Health Care


  1. Yes I own a smartphone and do use health-related apps. I have an app that connects me to my online medical record. I use another app to record (not take) my blood pressure readings – makes it really handy when my Dr. asks what the readings have been at home. I order my prescriptions from Walgreens by simply using my phone to scan the barcode on the bottle. Another one that I use from time to time is the instant heartrate app. It’s kind of fun – I turn on the app and put my finger over the camera flash and it fairly accurately measures my heartrate. As technology continues to advance, I expect we’ll see many more useful health-related apps. I love my smartphone – will never be able to go back to just using a cellphone for phone calls.

  2. You know, this stuff is just beyond me. At my last upgrade I was given one of these smartphones. I stuck with it for 2 weeks and then driven to absolute distraction by the complexity of trying to make a phone call, I gave the smartphone to my son.
    When they invent an app for doing the ironing, I will get another!

  3. Hi timethief,

    This is really interesting!

    I live in a little corner of Hawai’i that doesn’t have much in the way of cell phone coverage. So a SMART phone isn’t SMART for me at the moment. I have girlfriends who aren’t keen on computers who absolutely love their iPhones. Don’t know if they use any of these apps.

    Thanks for keeping us abreast with the latest.

  4. Pretty awesome. About two years ago i was at the doctors and she used her smart phone app to look up the medicine she wanted to give me. Now I have a smart phone, and although I haven’t particularly used it for health purposes yet, I’m sure I will be in the near future. The rage eraser sounds great, if only everyone that needed it’s help also wanted it’s help.

    • I was amazed to find how many medical applications there were. Use of handheld mobile devices by doctors and nurses is exploding. This trend has important implications for clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups, since clinicians quickly demand to access laboratory test data on their handheld mobile devices. Sales of Apple’s new handheld computing devices are going through the roof. By the end of 2010, Apple will have sold 12 million iPads. Financial analysts are predicting that iPad sales will total 28 million units by the end of 2011.

      I agree with you re: the rage eraser. It sounds like an app that many should use but those who could use it most probably won’t recognize their need. ;)

  5. These are some of the apps that have been reviewed.
    Tap and Track is an all-in-one app for diet and exercise. You enter what you eat, your physical activity, your actual weight, and your target weight. It computes your nutritional intake. Each time you enter a snack or plug in a workout, you’ll receive a nutritional tally as well as the number of calories you have left for the day. The $3.99 app can generate graphs and spreadsheets tracking your progress, which can be e-mailed to your computer.

    Glucose buddy tracks glucose readings you enter four times a day, as well as food consumed, exercise, and medication. You can set alarms to remind you to take the glucose readings. Glucose Buddy tracks glucose readings you enter four times a day, as well as food consumed, exercise, and medication. You can set alarms to remind you to take the glucose readings. The app also allows you to write notes to explain any unusual circumstances, such as high-carbohydrate meals. The data can be uploaded to for more detailed analysis. Glucose Buddy can be downloaded free to an iPhone.

    HeartWise lets you enter your blood pressure readings along with your pulse and weight. The app will calculate your average arterial pressure and generate graphs showing fluctuations over time.

    Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock finds the best time during a chosen 30-minute period to wake you. You place your phone on a corner of your mattress, secure it under a contour sheet, and allow it to “observe” you for a few nights. Using its built-in motion sensor, the phone gets to know your sleep patterns well enough to find the best moment to wake you.

    Pocket First Aid & CPR, from the American Heart Association, offers detailed instructions for assisting accident victims and those who fall ill, including video instructions for performing procedures like CPR or using a cardiac defibrillator.

    There are others you will find if you click into the Harvard Health article: “Smartphoning it in”.

  6. I’m just trying to envision when/what I would be using an apps for if I was sick/became sick.

    Instead I probably pick up the phone and ask a sister: she’s a doctor. She couldn’t diagnose me..but at least I wouldn’t just pluck info. out of the Internet without understanding it.

    Are people reading about nutritional value of food as they go shopping or what? And no, I don’t need to know my BMI on the spot. Heck, I only weigh myself once or twice per month.

    Put me on the bike. That’s my health apps!!

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