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New wave of mHealth apps bridge doctor-patient gap

Busy doctors and other health care professionals are always looking for tools to help them to be more productive and to treat patients more quickly and effectively. One way of doing so is to take advantage of the latest crop of mobile apps for platforms such as the iPad

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There are thousands of different medical apps available for various mobile platforms. These apps run the gamut from patient self-help apps to more doctor-targeted apps. However, the most popular apps seem to be those that bridge the gap between doctor and patient.

There are a number of different apps available that are designed to help doctors and patients share information with one another more efficiently and accurately. This article outlines several such apps designed to run on Apple devices.

Panda Health

Panda Health is a free app for the iPhone, iPod, or iPad that helps patients to stay connected with their doctors. Patients using this app can locate their doctor within the Panda Health database. A patient is able to send a message directly to their doctor through the app upon doing so. Patients can prioritize their message based on severity and can attach up to three photos for the doctor to evaluate. Many of the doctors who choose to accept requests via Panda Health charge a small fee (usually around $10) for each message they receive.

The most popular apps seem to be those that bridge the gap between doctor and patient.

OnPatient

OnPatient is a free app for iOS 5.1 and higher, designed to simplify the patient check-in process. The patient check-in process has traditionally involved handing the patient a clipboard and asking them to fill out paper forms. OnPatient allows the patients to use an iPad to check in rather than using paper forms.

Beyond the obvious environmental impact, there are several advantages to this approach. For starters, OnPatient frees the office staff from the data entry tasks associated with the check-in process. Now it is the patient -- not the office staff -- who is doing the work. Using iPads for check-in also reduces the risks of information being entered incorrectly, which can happen due to the staff's inability to read the patient's handwriting. Finally, using electronic check-in eliminates the storage of paper check-in forms.

Clinical Trial Seek

Doctors are often unable to help cancer patients using conventional treatment options. In such situations, the patient may benefit from a new treatment that has not yet received approval for general use from the FDA.

Clinical Trial Seek is a free app for the iPod Touch, iPad or iPhone that doctors or patients can use to find information on clinical trials. The app contains a powerful search feature that supports searching based on illness and location. For example, a physician might search for clinical trials of breast cancer treatments near New York City. The app even includes a mapping function that pinpoints where clinical trials are taking place and creates a log of recent searches.

More mHealth resources

mHealth factors in clinical decision support

mHealth can aid health care system

The role of mHealth in meaningful use stage 2

ACOs supported by mobile tech

drawMD

DrawMD is an iPad app designed to help doctors explain complex medical or surgical procedures to their patients. Physicians are able to choose from a number of built-in anatomical images, or they can add their own images. A doctor is able to use the built-in illustration tools to draw or type on a chosen image. For example, a doctor might use such a technique to show a patient the location of a stent about to be inserted or an organ that needs to be removed. Doctors can also save and email marked-up images to their patients.

Isabel App

Today's doctors are busier than ever and need to be able to quickly diagnose patients. The Isabel App is an iPhone, iPad or iPod app that can help doctors to quickly and accurately diagnose patients. Doctors simply enter the patient's symptoms along with other relevant data, such as the patient's age, gender and recent travel history, and the software searches a database of over 6,000 known diseases for matches.

Although the apps featured in this article are among the best for bridging the gap between doctors and patients, they are by no means the only good apps available. The Apple app store offers countless apps for all things medical.

About the author:
Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Windows 2000 Server and IIS. He has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once in charge of IT security for Fort Knox. Write to him at editor@searchhealthit.com or contact @SearchHealthIT on Twitter.

This was first published in November 2012

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