I 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.
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.
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?
The Social Impact-of the Internet on Health Care