There’s an app for that.

by Amy Myers

But really, there is.  For everything.  Chances are if you’re a Millennial reading this, you not only have a smartphone—you probably have it fully loaded with the latest apps,  from the practical (mobile banking and weather apps) to those purely for entertainment (you never know when you might need a mobile light saber).

While everyone’s wheels continue to turn regarding the SCOTUS decision, the rest of the world continues to turn right along with it. One important thing to realize about ACA being upheld is that we should look to new technologies and innovative ways of delivering health services in order to keep costs down while still providing quality care.  One emerging phenomenon is the integration of smartphone capabilities into our concept of how care is provided and supported. Let’s break down what this means for us and the future of health.

Level 1:  Generation Me… NOW!

As Karan alluded to in the title of a recent post, the Millennial generation is commonly referred to as Generation Me.  I would take it a step further and say Generation Me, Now.  The previous generation was the first to really be characterized by individualism. Millennials are individualistic too, but we’ve grown up on a steady diet of evolving technology, and have grown accustomed to its constant flux and development. We welcome new tech, and are capable of picking it up quickly.

Level 2:  Service to others

The above said, I’ve always felt that “Generation Me” portrayals are a biased view of our age bracket – perhaps coined by someone of another generation who wasn’t quite sure what to do with us when we came along and started coming of age.  We do look out for ourselves and have grown accustomed to having answers and information quickly – because that’s all we’ve ever known. But I think we can all agree that we’re a little less selfish than that stereotype might suggest, wouldn’t you say?  Our generation is characterized by more than the technology  that’s been at our fingertips our entire lives: we are increasingly more involved in volunteering, service-learning classes and activities, and charitable organizations. In fact, it’s been said in the past few years that the Millennial Generation is the most civic-minded generation since the 1930s and 1940s.  Working for the greater good seems to be an increasingly important ideal for people our age.

So what does all of that have to do with mobile health—mHealth? Plenty.

Wellness and prevention will become even more important once the remaining aspects of the health reform are put into place.  Providers will want to work more closely with their patients to keep them out of the hospital and insurance companies will expect it now that they are required to pay for many preventative services. With an increased emphasis on preventable readmissions, you can bet that patient compliance and making sure the patient has all of the information they need upon dismissal will be vital.  In order to create this working relationship between patient and provider, clinicians are turning to new technology that allows them to be in constant contact with their patients and track information relevant to individual care. A marriage between public good, wellness, and technology? Now that’s something that Millennials can get behind.

The latest apps for health and wellness may not be quite up to this Microsoft vision from several years ago (still one of my favorite “clinic of the future” ideas), but it is incredible what developers are trying to do – and some might not be too far off from that future ideal.

Here are just a few apps available for download right now:

DigiFit is a company focused on cardiac fitness that, as their website states, believes “a healthy heart is the foundation for a healthy life.”  This company touts what closely resembles the technology seen at the beginning of the Microsoft video when the woman is running.  DigiFit’s iPhone and Android apps track cardio, blood pressure, weight, and sleep patterns to ensure that you are doing whatever you can to maintain cardiac fitness whether it’s to treat a chronic illness or to make sure you are training correctly for athletic endeavors.  Most recently they’ve partnered with FitBit to integrate calorie and fitness tracking with their all-important cardiac output.

Apps like MedXCom aim to improve patient/provider communication while protecting the provider from an increasingly litigious society.  It allows physicians to set up auto-replies on their phone, forward calls in a secure manner, transcribe phone conversations and integrate with electronic health records and allows the provider access to patient information mid-call for time-sensitive questions.  The transcription components help physicians avoid the he said she said arguments that can lead to lawsuits by providing solid evidence of patient instructions and the like.

WellDoc is an app that has been creating buzz recently for its ability to specifically help diabetics and their doctors.  A June article from mHIMSS praises WellDoc for removing one of the major barriers doctors face in helping patients track their chronic disease – obtaining measurements. The article references a study done using the WellDoc app with diabetes patients that found the following: “…patients using mobile devices to report their blood-glucose levels to physicians saw their A1c reduced by 1.5 percent on average – and if physicians used clinical decision support in conjunction with those readings, the patient’s A1c level dropped an additional 30 percent on average, for a total of 1.9 percent.”

That’s not all. The mHealth industry is also on the forefront of utilizing mobile technology to provide needed services in undeveloped countries – but that’s a tangent for another day!

photo credit: mHealthWatch

Amy earned her MHA from the University of Missouri and works in healthcare market analysis and strategic planning.
Follow her on Twitter @amyloumyers.


One thought on “There’s an app for that.

  1. Mitch May says:

    I use the MedXCom app and loved your article. I love being able to share the recording of my conversations with my patient by pushing it to the patient’s MedXCom app. I can’t tell you how many times patients have told me that they didn’t hear everything I said and if it weren’t for me sharing the recording, they would have forgotten something important. I also love the MedXCom medication reminder system. If one of my patients isn’t compliant with their meds, the system notifies me and I can follow up with them to see why they either didn’t fill my electronic prescription via the MedXCom app or why they stopped it. It has made a huge difference in medication compliance with my patients. The company says that MedXCom will be integrating with blood pressure monitors, scales and blood glucose monitors before the end of this year. I can’t wait to use some of the other apps in your article as well. Awesome job! I love this technology.

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