Post image for New study evaluates apps for pediatric obesity, finds opportunity for clinicians and developers to do better

A particular opportunity for health apps to make a real impact is in driving healthy lifestyle changes. By virtue of being on a smartphone, they are generally always “on.” And for kids who are growing up with these devices, there should be a particular opportunity.

With over 1/3 of children and adolescents now overweight and obese, apps that promote healthier diets, more activity, and other behavioral changes could have a big impact.

A group of researchers from the University of Kansas took a myriad of apps aimed at pediatric obesity and how well they adhered to best practices. And what they found suggests that there is a real opportunity here still for clinicians interested in using these tools for the benefit of their patients.

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Post image for Jawbone UP Coffee App can be used to educate patients on interactions of sleep and caffeine

Several weeks ago, hardware manufacturer Jawbone surprisingly released UP Coffee, a simple, free iOS app that promised to be the simplest way to understand how caffeine affects your sleep.

UP Coffee can tie in the sleep tracking data collected by Jawbone UP devices, but also operates independently as a tool to help users become more aware of how their bodies process caffeine, and how UP users collectively consume caffeine.

I’m a huge fan of Jawbone’s UP24 and corresponding UP app, and was eager to give the UP Coffee app a spin.

After 3 weeks, the app proved to be basic, but delightful and insightful to use. On one hand, the app is far from being scientific or ground-breaking, but on the other, it still succeeds in achieving its simple goal of causing its users to be more aware of how caffeine affects them.

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Post image for How Google Glass can be used by medical schools in the anatomy lab

I’ve been spending several hours testing Google Glass in our procedures cadaver lab to get a better understanding of the device’s hardware and software capabilities.

When using the device with cadavers to practice procedures, I realized how easily Glass could be integrated into the anatomy lab by medical students.

Google Glass can be made to read QR codes, and then use use this information to link to online content.

Anatomy instructors could essentially tag anatomical parts with QR codes and then use this feature for a wide variety of functions. (read more)

Post image for The Diabetik app provides patients a way to manage their diabetes

The Diabetik app is a way for patients with diabetes to  track and manage their disease.

The app was created so that users can input their own data including medications taken, meals, blood glucose, activity, etc.

The data can all be stored in one location.

The app also allows users to create nice visual graphics of their data making it easy to see their progress.

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Post image for Vargo Anesthesia Case Tips app provides large quantity of content for the Operating Room

By: PJ Lally MD

Vargo anesthesia, which has made over 15 medical apps for the Android and iOS platforms, teamed with two CRNA’s and a PA to create a compendium of over 400 anesthesia case tips.

The range of cases, which can be browsed alphabetically or via categories, is impressive.

The app contains everything from basal cell carcinoma to aortofemoral bypass. There are also sections on the physiology and management of important anesthesia related pathology including things such as aortic stenosis. (read more)

Post image for GoBe wearable sensor’s promise of passive nutrition tracking should be taken with caution

David Ahn MD is an endocrinology fellow in San Diego, CA

Crowd-funding platform Indiegogo’s recently highlighted the GoBe wearable sensor, an activity tracker with an alluring twist: “GoBe is the first and only wearable device that automatically measures the calories you consume and burn all day.” With a $199 price tag and projected shipping date of June 2014, the campaign has blown through its initial goal of $100,000 by raising over $800k as of this article’s publishing.

It also features a well-designed product page, touting an experienced development team that has a history of working with major corporations such as Motorola, Reebok, and L’Oreal.

However, not surprisingly, the GoBe’s promise of passive nutrition tracking has raised significant skepticism over the accuracy and reliability of such a device, and has raised questions over the responsibility of crowd-funding sites when promoting these campaigns.

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Post image for AAOS Physical Exam of the Shoulder app is a well designed but pricey tool for trainees and students

By: Nathan Skelley, M.D.

The physical exam is especially important to orthopedic specialists.

There are, however, many eponyms and unique maneuvers that can make learning a good orthopedic exam challenging.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has attempted to clarify the intricacies of common physical exam maneuvers with a series of mobile apps. This review focuses on the AAOS physical exam of the shoulder.

The application is produced by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The AAOS is one of the largest medical specialty societies in the United States. The AAOS has a long tradition of producing educational content. They were also one of the first specialty societies to use mobile technology as a means for member education.

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Post image for Evaluating and scaling mobile health interventions, Aetna Foundation CEO shares his insights

Recently, the Aetna Foundation announced that it had awarded $1.2 million in grants to 23 organizations to support the implementation of digital health tools intended for low-income and minority populations. Among the supported projects are a pilot project at Washington University using an app called Zuum to deliver risk assessment tools to underserved populations in a 12-month pilot project. Another example is a project by the American Association of Diabetes Educators Education & Research Foundation to use an evidence-based app for diabetes self-management and effective lifestyle modification.

There are many reasons for enthusiasm about the potential impact digital health tools like these can have. They can be low cost in comparison to medical therapy, developed and deployed relatively quickly, and have extraordinary reach thanks to the permeation of computers and mobile technology in our society.

At the same time, the explosion of commercially available digital health tools as well as those being tested in innumerable small scale trials or pilot studies leaves us with a big question – how do we decide which of these warrant further support and scaling?

We recently had the opportunity to speak to Aetna Foundation president Dr. Garth Graham MD, MPH to learn more about how his organization approached the challenge of evaluating mHealth interventions.

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Post image for It’s all about the user – designing user interfaces for worldwide mobile health

Stickiness – the great challenge of mobile health projects.

One significant criticism of mobile health is the sheer number of “pilot” projects inundating the third world. Some countries, like Uganda, have even called for a moratorium on such projects. A recent PLoS Medicine paper noted that “in 2008 and 2009, approximately 23 of 36 mHealth initiatives did not move beyond the pilot phase.” Even PLoS Medicine’s editors have called for a technical reality check for researchers to continue the advancement of mobile medical projects, questioning the interoperability, open standards, and evaluation methods of mobile health projects.

One thing missing from this checklist: the user experience.

User interface designers and experts have cited numerous projects around the world as models for others – the Praekelt Foundation’s (@praekeltfound) MAMA project (@mamaglobal) in South Africa, the Ona records project in Kenya, and Medic Mobile. Their primary theme? Including the end-users in the initial design.

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Post image for EchoSource is a great tool for reviewing and learning echocardiography

Echocardiography, perhaps even more so than other imaging modalities, lends itself well to the use of apps, websites, and other e-learning modalities.

We’ve recently reviewed several apps related to echocardiography.

Here we take a look at EchoSource – an app that aims to teach the basic principles of and technique for echocardiography.

The developers behind EchoSource also have other apps focused on cardiology including CathSource and ECGSource. Overall, EchoSource is well designed for its purpose and is a great resource for anyone learning echocardiography.

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Post image for Key features hypertension apps need to have based on an extensive review of medical literature

Iltifat Husain MD contributed to this piece

This is the first part of a series we are doing on hypertension apps, next week iMedicalApps will be making formal recommendations of hypertensive apps we recommend physicians use with their patients based on an extensive review we have done of the App Store.

According to the American Heart Association, hypertension affects nearly 78 million Americans and its prevalence is increasing.

As a major contributor to coronary artery disease, renal disease, and cerebrovascular disease, effective management of hypertension is of critical importance both on an individual level and from a public health standpoint. Like many chronic diseases, self-management is particularly important.

A commonly employed strategy is home blood pressure monitoring – an approach endorsed by the American Heart Association, American Society of Hypertension, and other professional societies. When you think about it, self-tracking of home blood pressure seems to be a task that should be particularly amenable to mobile health tools like smartphone or tablet applications.

As part of a focus on chronic disease self-management, iMedicalApps will be putting together several features on specific conditions that are intended to help clinicians understand (1) the evidence for use of smartphone applications and (2) available tools that they can recommend to their patients. First, we’ll start with hypertension.

Here we present the results of our literature review and share the insights we gained on what evidence-based features we believe should be included in patient-centric apps for hypertension self-management. In upcoming pieces, we’ll look at available apps as well as connected blood pressure monitors and try to provide a roadmap for integrating these tools into your practice.

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Post image for BabelMeSH app helps researchers search PubMed in 13 different languages

The BabelMeSH app allows you to perform a quick search of MEDLINE PubMed in thirteen different languages. Previously, iMedicalApps reported on a similar app by the National Library of medicine — and this is their second app. The main screen of BabelMeSH provides three approaches to searching. Two of the approaches use MeSH terms (including the translation feature) and the third uses the PICO format (problem, intervention, comparison, outcome).

The app requires a little bit of playing around to figure out all of the features as there is really no direction and little explanation of them.

Although this is a little frustrating at first, the frustration is short-lived since the app is rather simple.

The first of the three approaches has the same name as the app — BabelMeSH.

In this section, you begin by selecting a language. Then you enter your search term in the selected language. In the screenshot below, French was used for the purpose of demonstration. (read more)