Physician Reviewed Patient Centered App Series
Goals of app review:
- To determine if iCholesterol could be used by patients to track lipid profiles over time in conjunction with monitoring the efficacy of medications.
- To determine if providers would find this as a useful tool to help patients monitor and improve their blood lipid values and if there is evidence to support this sort of tool in clinical practice.
This is a free app developed by iHealth Ventures that tracks total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol and triglycerides. It also has medication tracking and reminders.
The first screen encountered is a lengthy “terms and conditions” agreement that is eleven pages long (almost equaling the number of pages in the rest of the app).
Adding new values is easy, one click to the data entry screen which is “pre-filled” with data (which can make adding entries a little confusing).
The graphing page is quite simple and includes a weekly option which is not very useful for following lipid values.
This is the medication entry page; however, once the “done” button was pressed the app crashed and the med reminder button continued to crash the app with subsequent use.
Healthcare goals of app:
The main purpose of this app is to track changes of blood lipid levels over time in order to reach goals for those levels and to remind the user to take medication with alerts from the app.
Evidence to support goals:
This reviewer was unable to find any studies that have observed self-tracking of lipid values in the reduction of blood cholesterol values over time, though there is ample evidence that lowering cholesterol, especially LDL-cholesterol, is associated with a reduction in cardiovascular disease.
- Free with an annoying ad that comes up every time the user starts the app
- The app is simple, fairly easy to use.
- Visually unappealing
- The disclaimer and terms agreed to at the beginning of the app’s use is extensive and appears unnecessary given the limited capability of the app
- Outside of taking a picture of the app page, there is no way to print or email logs to share with the user’s provider.
- The medication reminder crashed at every attempt to use once the information was entered
- The app was advertised as free with no mention of the large ad for Livalo, which came up every time the app was entered.
- There are reports for daily, weekly or monthly data entry, none of which are likely to be used.
- The graph page is simplistic and of limited usefulness
- Lack of any educational information in the app, such as nutritional goals, purpose of lowering cholesterol to cardiovascular health, the role of exercise in lowering LDL cholesterol or raising HDL cholesterol
- The report section of the app simply reiterated the log page with no interpretation of the data in relation to the user’s goals
- The ability to contact the developer for support is virtually hidden, and only found accidentally while looking through the app
- iCholesterol is uninteresting to use, has no means for data sharing with the user’s provider other than taking a screen picture, there is no nutritional information included and the medication part of the app crashes. While it is only one click to any data entry, it is not intuitive. It is presently crashing with use of the medication area of the app.
This app is not well designed, is unappealing and poorly operational due to the crashing problem. Unfortunately, this app appeared to be the best of the cholesterol apps offered in the Apple app store for the tracking of blood lipid levels. In its present form, the reviewer cannot recommend it to physicians or patients.
Disclaimer: This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an in-person evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or health care provider as to the apps validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question. The app(s) mentioned in this post should not be used without discussing the app first with your health care provider.