Apps that Physicians Should Recommend to Patients

May 6, 2011

There are so many mobile apps patients can use to improve their health. Perhaps physicians should start recommending some.

Except for the fact that e-mail doesn’t come in as quickly and my small fingers feel fat when I try to use the touch-screen interface, I’m really digging my new iPhone. 

I finally get the expression “there’s an app for that” because there usually is: Within one day of snagging my latest phone (part of my carrier’s regular device upgrade plan), I had already downloaded a Facebook app, an expense-report app, and three apps that track various health, nutrition, and fitness stats.

The timing couldn’t be more serendipitous. Summer is just around the corner, as is the half-marathon I’m training for: Now I can use one app to track my running times, and another to find out how many calories are in that bacon cheeseburger I’m planning to eat post-race.

All of which makes me wonder, given everything from the rise of obesity to the trend of preventative healthcare and wellness, how often are physicians recommending mobile apps to their patients?

If you’re a doctor and you haven’t had time to navigate the world of mobile apps, here are some great suggestions for ones that are more than just waiting room time killers.

The media outlet iMedicalApps.com recommends iTriage (for iPhone and iPad) to track symptom- and disease-based medical information. It also allows patients to check out healthcare providers through healthcares. MGMA also gives this app a thumbs-up.

MGMA’s bloggers also recommend MedsLog, an iPhone app that helps patients remember which medications to take, plus when to take them and refill prescriptions. Missed a dose? There’s an alert for that. Another winner for both patients and physicians is Quick MT, a quick medical terminology and abbreviation reference app for iPhones that features a searchable database for medical terms.

Just spending a few minutes browsing the medical apps section of my phone’s app store reveals apps to track a baby’s growth and vaccination dates, learn the musculoskeletal system, and monitor ovulation and fertility.

And because Android phones have almost as many apps as iPhones, patients may appreciate learning about apps like Ontrack, which helps diabetics track blood-glucose levels, and Cardiotrainer, which helps ordinary people track their exercise levels.

Though it’s too early to tell if the expression “an app a day keeps the doctor away” will have any merit, anything that helps people improve their health in such an easy, unobtrusive way is something to cheer about.