The iPatient Affect

Whilst Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is having trouble from all sides over the Health and Social Care Bill I’m going to ‘app’ease myself with the Department of Health initiative encouraging patient’s to use smartphone apps to help manage their health conditions.

So in a phoenix rising from the fire attempt Lansley has reignited the discussion started last summer over whether this may be a viable or popular option.

By all accounts it is a popular idea, when the DoH invited people last year to name their favourite health app in a competition run by the NHS it received 500 entries and a further 12 600 votes and comments. At the time, and again this week, there has been the usual tabloid hyperbole, “Patients told to use mobile phones for a check-up instead of visiting their GP” reported the Daily Mail yesterday. Well I never, I hadn’t realised these apps are supposed to be used to the mutual exclusion of medical care. They aren’t – fact. But thanks very much Sophie Borland with your journalistic prowess in selling the public short on the NHS, again. Need I remind you that the NHS was created by National consensus in 1948.

The aim of the apps as I see it is to assist patients suffering with chronic health problems in the management of their symptoms, monitoring themselves in much the same way as they always have, and taking some responsibility for their own health. For example monitoring daily blood sugars in diabetes, blood pressure in hypertensives, setting reminders on when to take their medication to address compliance issues. This isn’t new. What’s new is the format it takes, staying abreast of the technological advances in the hope it is more appealing. As with all things, people will only try the apps if they like them, can use them and find what they offer in someway useful.

So, the top apps as voted by the public……drum-roll:

1. Moodscope – this is an app whereby you are able to measure and record your current state of mind. If you record feeling low it can alert friends/ family and will provide suggestions on how to perk yourself up.
2. Healthunlocked – an online support network for Patient Organisations which enables patients to share experiences, monitor their health, outcomes of treatment via patient recorded outcomes and track their symptoms.
3. FoodWiz.co – an app for people with food allergies, download the app and enter the ingredients you wish to avoid. Scan the barcode of food in the supermarket and it will let you know instantly if suitable.

I personally think it’s a great idea to help patients become more involved in their health. An ideal way to monitor themselves and their symptom profile against medication type and dose. It will help patients gain a better understanding of what works for them and what doesn’t, ultimately being able to assist the medical profession in providing the best care plan possible.

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