i phone
Mobile medical apps

Smart Health

This is an excerpt from the Boston Globe which is very interesting indeed. We are not suggesting for a minute that this is going to be come widespread overnight however it is an interesting article on how technology can bridge gaps in care.

“?Dale Hoyt sees his cardiologist every six weeks at Massachusetts General Hospital, but he’s never out of touch for long. Every day, he checks his blood pressure, heart rate, and weight and logs them on his iPhone, and periodically he e-mails the data to Dr. Kimberly Parks. Mr Hoyt, 60, of Berlin, Connetticut, has congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease. He’s on the heart transplant list, and while he waits, he needs to track his vital signs and symptoms meticulously. But until he met Dr Parks, in 2009, he wasn’t doing it.

Then Dr Parks introduced him to HeartWise. “She said, ‘Monitor your heart rate, monitor your weight, and oh, by the way, here’s a neat little app,’ ’’ Mr Hoyt recalled. It cost just 99 cents and lets him track all his data, analyse trends, create spreadsheets, and share them with Dr Parks. He uses it religiously.

“This makes it easy,’’ he said, quickly pulling up a chart and scrolling through weeks of data. Without the app, he said, he would still take his blood pressure — but keep and share a log? “I probably wouldn’t do that.’’

Patient engagement, doctors say, is a crucial factor in health outcomes. Visits are brief; once you step out into the real world, it’s up to you to take your medicine, exercise, diet, and monitor your symptoms.

It can be hard, tedious work, and many doctors’ orders go unheeded, even in such basic matters as patients filling prescriptions. A recent study of more than 75,000 patients by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachussetts General found that 22 percent of prescriptions were never filled over the period of a year. Noncompliance rose to 28 percent on orders for first-time prescriptions, according to the study, published last year in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Use of mobile applications, many medical professionals believe, could make an important difference. Multiple small-scale studies have looked at apps and their impact on patient education, engagement, and compliance, with mostly positive, though not conclusive, findings. Researchers at the University of Washington provided eight diabetic patients with services such as feedback on glucose levels and connection to care providers through cellphones and game systems. The study, published last month in the journal Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics, found patients liked using the system and felt more aware of their health needs as a result.

In Toronto, a study of more than 100 heart-failure patients reported that many were comfortable using mobile apps to manage their conditions — though some clinicians had reservations about difficulty of use by some patients, legal issues, and increases in clinical workloads. (The research was published last year in the Journal of Medical Internet Research)


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