Steven Chan MD, MBA and Iltifat Husain MD contributed to this article
There are a lot of great free medical apps out there.
Epocrates gives us a free comprehensive drug reference. Medscape summarizes an incredibly wide range of disease. The list goes on and on.
Many free apps aren’t really free, though. We talked about the hidden price of free medical apps about two years ago, an issue that was later highlighted in the New York Times as well. In essence, the price of these apps is that we share enough personal information to enable targeted advertising, surveys, and so on.
What may come as a surprise to many healthcare professionals is that many apps they frequently use like Medscape and Epocrates share users’ names, NPI numbers, and other identifying information with pharmaceutical advertisers. As it turns out, Facebook and Twitter have stricter privacy policies than some of your favorite free medical apps.
After using Google Glass for a few months in various medical settings, one of the silliest things I hear and read about is how you can use Glass when you’re talking to patients.
Don’t get me wrong, I think there are plenty of uses for Glass in medicine.
I made this clear last month when I wrote an article titled, How Google Glass will save your life one day. In that article I highlighted how Glass will be used in medicine, but also touched on how I was perplexed by people who think Glass can be used in patient encounters. I’ll elaborate more.
The typical scenario I hear and read about is the following: How cool would it be if I(physician) was talking to a patient, and I could read about their prior H&Ps and lab and imaging results at the same time. It sounds like a good concept, but you can’t do this without being rude to your patient. (read more)
As the wearable fitness and activity tracker market has evolved, the Basis B1 Band has set itself apart by adding multiple sensors (heart rate, skin temperature, perspiration) at an added cost ($179 – the price was dropped from $199 in January 2014 with the introduction of a 2014 Carbon Steel Model).
Even at first glance, Basis Science went in a different design direction than other trackers on the market: the B1 Band looks essentially identical to any other retro digital watch, complete with an always-on digital watch face.
Since its launch in the 1st half of 2013, the Basis experience has consistently been improved, with the introduction of mobile apps, and software/firmware upgrades introducing features such as ”Body IQ,” which accurately and intelligently detects walking/running/biking in real-time. In January 2014, they announced a new software update which introduced Advanced Sleep Analysis to identify REM cycles during sleep.
With the Basis B1 Band’s approach, does more equal better? Yes in most cases, but the B1 may not be for everyone.
Evidence based medicine is the use of mathematical estimates of the risk of benefit and harm (derived from high-quality research on population samples) to inform clinical decision-making in the diagnosis, investigation or management of individual patients.
In practice, it requires clinicians to contextualize the best available research evidence by integrating it with their individual clinical expertise and their patient’s values and expectations.
Diagnose is a medical app available for both Android and iOS that attempts to aid physicians in the difficult task of providing evidence based diagnosis through the use of pre and post-test probabilities and likelihood ratios.
Physicians and other health-care providers play a critical role in preventing and treating Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).
The CDC STD guidelines for the treatment of persons who have or are at risk for STDs are developed by the CDC after consultation with groups of professionals knowledgeable in the field. The CDC STD Tx app is the result of a collaboration between CDC’s Division of STD Prevention and the Public Health Surveillance and Informatics Program Office’s Informatics Research & Development Activity. The web based version can be downloaded free of charge, but thankfully they have created a mobile app using the same content.
Surveys have shown that mobile devices are being increasingly utilized by clinicians to obtain medical information. Being able to look up a drug dose or a particular exam finding at or near the point of care has several advantages. In many healthcare institutions, resources are increasingly being devoted towards making these mobile tools available to clinicians.
A team of medical librarians from McGill University and the University of Alberta sought to better understand how clinicians are using their mobile devices to find information, with a particular focus on barriers and facilitators as well as current support strategies being employed by health libraries.
Recently, Google’s secretive research lab Google X released information regarding their work on a smart contact lens that continuously measures glucose readings, as frequently as once per second.
In the announcement, they also discuss the potential for early warnings that could be displayed to the user via the contact lens using tiny LED lights.
They caution that the project is in very preliminary stages, but note that they have completed multiple clinical research studies which are helping to refine our prototype and have held discussions with the FDA.
The medical and health app market is growing rapidly, there’s no question about. One as yet unanswered question though is how to regulate this emerging industry. This is something we’ve talked about before in a viewpoint published in JAMA Dermatology as well as on iMedicalApps. While it is still early on and we will in many ways have to see which approach is most suitable, its clear that some way of regulating this industry is needed.
Thats certainly not to say that we’re suggesting the FDA or other government regulations are the sole solution. If one thing is clear, its that different apps will require different regulatory approaches depending on what they do (this is the basis behind the FDA regulations). One question that seems to come up frequently is if medical apps should be regulated by individual hospitals/organizations.
I think that question is a somewhat contentious issue so I would like to explain my view in this editorial.
Pfizer recently announced plans to conduct clinical trials of Akili Interactive Lab’s Project EVO, an app designed for iOS, to assess its effectiveness in detecting cognitive deficits in patients at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Project:EVO, developed by a team based at the University of California – San Francisco, is an app designed for iOS that using gaming with an aim to both assess and improve cognitive function with a specific focus on executive function. It is similar to a game designed by the same team called NeuroRacer that, in a recent clinical trial, appeared to help improve cognitive functioning in older adults through adaptative gaming.
While the notion of brain training has been the focus of much controversy of late, this clinical trial will focus on more narrow scope of application for the app – the detection of disease at early stages. Such a tool could be transformative in terms of how clinical trials, in this case of Alzheimer’s medications, are done.
Purpose of App Review
- to compare available ultrasound apps for obstetrics and gynecology (ob/gyn)
- to evaluate the utility of five available ultrasound apps for obstetric and gynecologic use
Ultrasonography is an important part of an obstetrician-gynecologist’s work. Like most things in life, you do not come into residency innately knowing how to perform ultrasonography–the best teachers are excellent didactic resources and experience.
A textbook or someone with more experience are not always available, but an app can be with you always.
This is a review of 5 ultrasound applications that either focus on or include obstetric and/or gynecologic ultrasounds from my viewpoint as an Ob/Gyn resident. I have reviewed two other ultrasound apps previously, which are not included in this review. You can read their reviews here–Fetal Biometry and Fetal Ultrasound.
From the estimation of 10-year cardiovascular disease risk to the calculation on echo of a shunt fraction, cardiology is a field riddled with formulas and scoring tables.
So while apps like QxMD Calculate are great as a general calculator, it makes a lot of sense that an app geared towards cardiologists that has all of the equations and scores that no non-cardiologist would ever want to know would be useful. That’s the need that Epocrates Cardio Tool aims to fill.
Unfortunately, after giving it a spin, it left me with a distinct feeling that the app was more intended to bolster the ranks of cardiologists amongst Epocrates’ registered users rather than to function as a tool for the average cardiologist.