Mobile Health Management

By Earl Whipple

Mobile devices make our lives easier and easier.  Email?  At your fingertips.  Breaking news? Just check your phone. Want to keep track of your blood pressure, medications or disease symptoms? There are apps for that, too.  My brother in law uses his mobile device to lose weight – by inputting what he eats into an app that tracks calories and carbs.

Widgets and applications for hand held devices, or “apps”, are increasingly addressing health topics and bringing value to patients.  The Los Angeles Times recently reported that there are now close to 6,000 consumer health apps according to a review published by mobihealthnews.

Chronic diseases can cause major limitations in daily living for nearly 1 in 10 Americans. In the past, these patients would keep written “symptom diaries” along with disease information and treatment related materials on-hand for easy reference. But today, many patients with a chronic disease are instead turning to their mobile phones to help simplify disease management.

Whether you are working to manage a chronic disease or just trying to live a healthy life, apps can help you stay informed and on track. For example, you can use the body map “symptom checker” on WebMD Mobile to swiftly narrow down your symptoms.  You can learn the basics from the American Heart Association’s Pocket First Aid and CPR app. You can monitor your cholesterol levels with the iCholesterol app. Diabetics can track their glucose results, carbohydrate intake and insulin doses with WaveSense’s Diabetes Manager.  The government even has a website that provides links to mobile applications, including an app that calculates your body mass index and another that alerts you to recalled food and drug products.

This kind of immediate information and easy access to customizable programs is empowering patients around the world to take control of their health.

What apps have you seen that enable patients to live healthier lives? Share your favorites in the comments section.