By Jamar Ramos
Gadgets and apps have become integral. Digital cameras can help us chronicle the important, and mundane, moments of our lives. Eight-track players paved the way for cassette tapes, which then moved over for CDs, until we started downloading music onto our computers. VHS tapes morphed into DVDs, and now we have Blu-Rays with which to entertain ourselves.
Entertainment isn't the only area that has exploded with advancements over the past years of tech growth. As technology continues to move forward, it opens up the capacity for people from far-flung areas of the world to communicate as easily as if they lived in the same home. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and other services help link individuals to each other, facilitating instant contact. These lines of communication can also be leveraged by health care professionals.
Doctors and hospitals have begun to use technological tools to keep in closer contact with their patients. The expanding use of electronic health records (EHRs) has allowed doctors to pass patient information along to colleagues and specialists for consultation. EHRs can also help doctors learn about patients before they ever enter the hospital or office for examination or treatment, potentially cutting down the amount of time needed for gathering background information. These records are transferable in the event a patient switches doctors or health care providers.
High-Tech Tools for Health Care
Health information technology isn't just for medical professionals. Thanks to health informatics, patients gain the ability to access their records, test results and physician recommendations over the Internet instead of having to head to the doctor's office and wait for printed reports, saving unnecessary paperwork and travel time.
In recent years, technology has given people greater opportunities to take ownership of their health care experience. Anyone with a smartphone has access to different applications that allow them to monitor calorie count, track when they should take their medications, keep in touch with doctors and medical assistants for the answers to pressing questions, and also shop for affordable insurance coverage by comparing prices. And these services are available from a device that rests in the palm of your hand.
Of the many apps available to download, some target health care professionals, and others are designed for patients. We chose six intriguing innovations, but you may find many more of interest.
Apps for Health Care Professionals
Medscape: The Medscape app from WebMD describes itself as the number one mobile platform for U.S. clinicians. Doctors can use this reference tool to check the dosing information for many drugs, as well as possible reactions with other prescription medications. Treatment information is available for over 4,000 diseases, and users can find recent medical news or search a database of medical journals. This app can be downloaded for iPhones, iPads or Android devices.
Doximity: This app brings mobile functionality to a professional social networking site for physicians, where users can find contact information such as colleagues' fax numbers. The app allows doctors to keep in contact with each other, and the company notes that communications meet the data security requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The app also provides a place where small practices can spread their name and build visibility. Doximity is downloadable for iPhones, iPads or Android devices.
Epic Canto and Epic Haiku: Epic provides hospitals with software to build electronic health records, and both Canto and Haiku allow authorized physicians to access these records remotely. Apps enable dictation, medical chart review, and also clinical image capture or e-prescribing. Canto was designed for the iPad, and Haiku works with iPod touch and iPhone or Android devices.
Apps for Health Care Consumers and Patients
Pokitdok: As suggested, this software is like having a "doc" in your pocket, allowing you to search for and compare information about health services and pricing, based on location, condition or a doctor's specialty. Health care providers can fill out a profile with their professional background that consumers and potential patients can view. The app can be used with an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.
Asthmapolis: In conjunction with a sensor that people can place on their inhaler, this app sends information to mobile phones. This data can then be used by doctors to better monitor asthma symptoms. Individuals with asthma could also report their health history to respiratory therapists who specialize in helping patients breathe. The company notes that the treatment of asthma has been limited by a lack of data about patients' symptoms. This app can be used to help collect that information.
Mango Health: This app lets patients monitor their use of medications, including helping them avoid combinations that could be hazardous to their health. It also allows users to set schedules for taking their medication, and reminds them when it is time through banner push notifications or alarm tones. A May 2013 blog post describes an update allowing you to edit your personal records showing when you took medications or supplements. Mango lovers can use the app on devices running the iOS.
These apps can help doctors and patients collaborate on health care, no matter the distance between them. One particular medical app may not meet the needs of everyone, so individuals should research apps before using them. And keep your eyes open for other health tech innovations on the horizon.
About the Author
Jamar Ramos has been writing poetry and fiction for many years, and earned his bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. For the last three years, Mr. Ramos switched to producing blog posts for CBSSports.com and writing professionally as an independent contributor for a number of Internet sites. His creative works have been featured in The Bohemian and The San Matean. He now contributes articles for OnlineDegrees.com, OnlineColleges.com, and AlliedHealthWorld.com.
This article is originally published on AlliedHealthWorld.com