Tag Archives: apps

SmokerStop App Review: A Motivational Tool for Your Patients

Douglas Maurer, DO/MPH/FAAFP | August 2, 2018

Tobacco use remains the #1 preventable cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States and worldwide. Overall, cigarette smoking among U.S. adults (aged ≥18 years) declined from 20.9 percent in 2005 to 15.5 percent in 2016. Still nearly 38 million

smoking cessation info graphic for article, SmokerStop App Review: A Motivational Tool for Your PatientsAmerican adults smoked cigarettes in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Smoking remains the leading cause of cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). National efforts have included tobacco taxes and smoking bans which have both proven effective.

More recently, the prescribing of apps for cessation has been utilized and shown to be effective. We recently reviewed and praised the outstanding QuitMedKit from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The app includes nearly everything the primary provider would want to have to aid patients in tobacco cessation: the 5A’s approach, information on medications for cessation, tips on motivational interviewing, graphics to assist in cessation, and links to online resources.

The QuitMedKit app does not include much information tailored to patients regarding personal health and financial goals. The SmokerStop app by Dr Titus Brinker in Germany uses personal motivation as its primary smoking cessation technique. The app uses data input by the patient to calculate health information such as reduction in blood pressure, lung cancer risk, as well as financial goals such as when an ex-smoker will have enough cash for movie tickets, an iPhone, etc. The app also allows patients to put in their own goals. All of this information is tracked by the app and reminders are periodically sent to to the patient to help keep them motivated.


QuitMedKit: An Essential Guide to Tobacco Cessation App

Douglas Maurer, DO/MPH/FAAFP | 

Tobacco use remains the #1 preventable cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States and worldwide. Overall, cigarette smoking among U.S. adults (aged ≥18 years) declined from 20.9 percent in 2005 to 15.5 percent in 2016. Still, nearly 38 million American adults smoked cigarettes in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Screenshot of app for article, QuitMedKit: An Essential Guide to Tobacco Cessation App
And it’s FREE!

Smoking remains the leading cause of cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Efforts to promote tobacco cessation are encouraged at the national, state, local, and individual practice level. The CDC reports only California and Alaska spend the recommended amount on tobacco cessation.

National efforts have included tobacco taxes and smoking bans which have both proven effective. Efforts to prevent the initiation of tobacco use in youths include Tar Wars from the AAFP. More recently, the prescribing of apps for cessation has been utilized and shown to be effective. I have studied the Smartquit app myself via a randomized controlled trial in the military population (unpublished data) served by our residency program. What are the options for providers just wanting to counsel patients outside of a research study and/or paying for a smoking cessation app to prescribe?

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has just released a new app called QuitMedGuide. The app was developed by Alexander V. Prokhorov, MD, PhD and Mario Luca, MS, at MD Anderson. The app is intended to assist healthcare providers in counseling and treatment of tobacco dependence. The app includes the evidence-based 5As approach, information on medications for cessation, tips on motivational interviewing, graphics to assist in cessation, and links to online resources.

Evidence-based medicine

Developed by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, QuitMedKit uses the current 2008 US Department of Health and Human Services Clinical Practice Guideline for tobacco cessation. The app includes detailed information on the proven 5As approach to cessation, tips on motivational interviewing, and current FDA-approved medications for tobacco cessation.

Who would benefit from this App?

Medical students, primary care physicians, midlevels, hospital medicine physicians, nurses, pharmacists, or any provider who counsels patients on tobacco cessation.


How Technology Is Changing Workers’ Compensation

By Denise Johnson | February 22, 2017

tech trends in workers' compensationNew technologies are improving workers’ compensation programs in everything from communications and training to health care delivery and claims, according to experts.

Tom Ryan, market research leader for Marsh’s Workers Compensation Center of Excellence, speaking during a recent Marsh broadcast, identified several areas of workers’ compensation that can benefit from technology:

•   In communications with employees. Information critical to prevent injuries and claim updates can be provided to employees via smartphone mobile applications.
•   In sharing workforce training via an employer’s intranet or through smartphone applications.
•   In delivering care to injured workers through telemedicine and via mobile apps that can direct injured workers to preferred medical providers.
•   In managing claims by providing customizable email alerts, such as notifications when prescriptions are ready.

Wearable technology is also having an impact. Wearables can monitor employee movements and alert co-workers of danger, as well as monitor fatigue, body temperature and repetitive motion. The information can be used in training, fraud prevention and wellness programs, Ryan said.
wearble technology, injury prevention, incident reporting, workforce training, smartphone, apps, telemedicine
Construction industry wearables include high tech vests and helmets that have lights or vibrate to alert employees of potentially dangerous changes in surroundings.
The use of telemedicine has resulted in higher network penetration, lower claims severity and lower claims costs at Bank of America.


Concussion Coach App

Concussion Coach App As A Useful Educational Tool for PatientsA Useful Educational Tool for Patients, With Some Caveats

Brian Chau, MD | February 15, 2017

We recently covered the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Mobile App Store, which includes apps for both providers and patients.

One of the most intriguing apps listed on this store is the Concussion Coach. Designed to help educate users on concussion symptom management and education, in addition to providing support resources, the app is primarily geared towards patients. The app was developed through a multi-disciplinary team including the VA’s Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services, National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Department of Defense National Center for Telehealth and Technology.

Of note, the term “concussion” is used throughout the app to refer to all types of brain injury. The app itself is geared towards those who have experienced a mild to moderate traumatic brain injury. The American Congress of Rehabilitation (1995) has defined mild traumatic brain injuries to be the same as a concussion, with specific criteria for such. There are a variety of other brain injury scales available in addition, including the American Academy of Neurology Guidelines, Cantu Guidelines, and Colorado Medical Society Guidelines that provide more specifics on the grading (mild, moderate, and severe) for traumatic brain injuries.


Currently, Concussion Coach is only available for iOS devices (5.0 or later), and is free. At the time of release (2013), a promised Android version was in the works. However, there has been no update since and no release for Android. I have attempted to contact the team behind Concussion Coach for clarification on the lack of an Android version but haven’t heard back. MeriTalk recently reported on concerns about the funding behind some of the VA apps, and it’s unknown if this will will affect Concussion Coach.


Concussion Coach is subdivided into 5 key sections: Learn (concussion 101, symptoms, treatment, types of associated headaches, sleep, cognitive symptoms, anxiety, and irritability), Self-Assessment (symptom tracking), Manage the Moment (selection of coping tools and symptom management options), Build Resilience (Wellness journal, goal recording), and Resources and Support (Both VA and outside resources for patients). In addition, at startup, users can elect to be screened to determine if they may have experienced a concussion in the past.


iPrescribe Exercise – Free App Combats Sedentary Lifestyle

Douglas Maurer, DO/MPH/FAAFP | October 12, 2016

iPrescribe Exercise: Helping Your Patients Meet Recommended Fitness GoalsAs of 2014, there were over 165,000 health apps available for download in the iOS and Android app stores (duplicates excluded).

There are over 500 million people using them—1 in 3 patients seen in primary care. This explosion of health apps has created an entire cottage industry that is projected to pull in over $8 billion by 2018.

But few apps for health are evidence based and less than 1% are FDA regulated. A 2016 study by the Commonwealth Fund performed a systematic review of 946 iOS apps and 1,173 Android apps and evaluated them on their merits regarding patient engagement. Of the apps that met the reviewers inclusion criteria, only 161 (43%) of iOS apps and 152 (27%) of Android apps were assessed as “possibly useful”, of which 126 apps existed on both platforms. A 2015 systematic scoping review of 457 articles and 800 apps for weight loss found that only 28 met inclusion criteria for quality and behavior change principles. Continue reading iPrescribe Exercise – Free App Combats Sedentary Lifestyle

Red Cross Hits Home Run With FREE Gamification App for Children

Iltifat Husain, MD | March 16, 2016

graphic for American Red Cross app for children, The Monster GuardThe American Red Cross has been building a great collection of medical and health apps over the past few years. Their collection of apps is similar to the CDCs — the CDC has a number of medical apps aimed at physicians and patients.

Notable medical apps by the American Red Cross have been their blood transfusion guidelines, disaster response and emergency preparedness apps, and their blood donor app (the health app tells you where your donated blood goes and how many lives you helped save). One of the American Red Cross’ most recent apps is Monster Guard, a free gamification app focused on helping prepare children for emergencies.

The Monster Guard app uses games to teach children how to prepare and stay safe during various emergencies — such as home fires, hurricanes, floods, and other disasters.

The app is set in “Monster Guard Academy” and uses a variety of characters to do the teaching, and children get points and medals for completing tasks. The goal is to complete enough tasks and collect enough points to “graduate” from Monster Guard Academy.

The emergency preparedness app is sponsored by Disney and is free to download. I was extremely impressed with the Red Cross app and it has garnered a 4.5 out of 5 star rating on iTunes.


Review of Merck Home Symptom Guide App

A simple & understandable patient resource

Merck Home Symptom Guide appClinical Scenario
A mother is concerned that her 10 month old son might have a fever and is wondering what is the best way to take his temperature and what symptoms would require a doctors visit.

Evidence and literature used to support the app
Part of the Merck series of books, this app has similar strong references to the Merck Manual and the editors and authors are clearly listed in the app.

$4.99 on iTunes ($7.99 if bought as a bundle with the Family drug guide app); $4.99 on Google Play store

Very easy to navigate
Excellent search function
Evidence based and backed by a reputable institution



Easy to use, concise and to the point and backed by strong references. I feel the price might be a little high, especially as there are free resources on the internet but on the other hand all the information in the app is pretty reliable so that might justify the price. Overall a very good patient information app.
Overall Score

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5 Digital Health Trends You’ll See In 2015


Digital Health Trends for 2015 illustration2014 has been a huge year for health tech. According to digital health incubator StartUp Health, digital health funding in the first three quarters of 2014 has already surpassed $5 billion, close to double what was invested in all of 2013 ($2.8 billion).

“Digital health funding for the year is on track to double last year’s total,” said Unity Stoakes, co-founder and president of StartUp Health. “Some trends we’re watching include a growing corporate interest in digital health, more global cross-pollination of ideas, as well as increasing health consumerism as people move into the driver’s seat when it comes to their care.”

With this kind of capital pouring into the market, the health tech space should be exciting to watch in the coming years, but here’s a sneak peek at what’s coming in 2015.

1. Wearables for the ear

Tired of clip-on trackers and bracelets? Your next wearable device just might be hooked around your ear.

“Due to the proximity to the temporal artery,

devices worn on the ear can conduct completely unobtrusive, passive monitoring

devices worn on the ear can conduct completely unobtrusive, passive monitoring and offer far more precise measurements,” says Dr. Vahram Mouradian, founder and CTO of Sensogram Technologies. “Moreover, they can deliver a wealth of wellness information, including real time blood pressure, respiration rate and oxygen saturation, in addition to the typical readings of heart rate or steps taken.”

We’ve already seen a few of companies introduce ear buds with basic health monitoring, such as IriverOn and FreeWavz. Watch for increasing sophistication in ear-based devices over the coming year.

For example, Sensogram’s SensoTRACK — slated for general availability in March 2015 — is an elegantly designed device that fits snugly on your ear, where it measures heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation and respiration rate. It also counts steps and calories burned, while sensing your speed, activity level, geolocation, altitude, body posture and pace.


Could This Become the Facebook of Fitness?

By Erik Malinowski

RunKeeper to be the Facebook of Fitness?RunKeeper’s new Health Graph may change the way you look at personal fitness.
In a few short years, fitness has become so much more than just recording how many calories you burn or how many miles you run. There are mobile apps and standalone gadgets that’ll monitor your heart rate, how many hours you slept, the number of steps you take at work and so on.

Now RunKeeper, the company behind one of the original health and fitness apps for the iPhone, has revealed an ambitious new plan that it hopes will make it the Facebook of fitness, a one-stop location for all of your important health information. Imagine having data on your blood pressure, cholesterol, diet, cycling output, heart rate, REM sleep and BMI, all continuously updated from a slew of third-party gadgets and services.

If Facebook tells you everything about what’s happening with your friends, RunKeeper wants you to know everything that’s going on in your body.
‘Aggregating the world’s health information is where we ultimately want to head.’

Tucked away in Boston’s South End neighborhood, the 11-person, 3-year-old startup announced this morning that users may now see all their health and fitness data points aggregated together into a Health Graph, an interactive graphical representation of their workouts over time and how they compare to friends in their FitnessFeed, akin to Facebook’s News Feed or your standard Twitter stream.

More over, RunKeeper has also released an open API for outside developers to plug into RunKeeper users’ feeds, like so many various Twitter clients and Facebook partners. FourSquare, Zeo and Polar are just a few of the launch partners being announced today.

But with an open API setup, RunKeeper cofounder Jason Jacobs expects a steady stream of new additions to the FitnessFeed every week. And with more partners feeding health data into RunKeeper, that means more useful information for the site’s 6 million-plus users.

Continue reading Could This Become the Facebook of Fitness?

Five Apps to Help Prevent Illness This Flu Season

Flu season mightscreenshot of smartphone app called Outbreaks be upon us, but that doesn’t mean you have to get sick. Here are five apps to fight off the flu.
As temperatures continue to drop during the autumn season, a familiar sound fills the air: the drone of people coughing and sneezing in offices, homes and public transportation. Although your smartphone might be covered with disease-carrying bacteria, it can also contain many useful tools to help prevent illness. Here are our favorite apps to survive flu season:

Outbreaks Near Me
Hygienic practices such as hand washing are always a good starting place for disease prevention. But knowing that the flu virus is going around in your community might encourage you to practice even better habits.

HealthMap’s Outbreaks Near Me app, available for both Android and iPhone, tracks real-time disease outbreak information throughout the world. Outbreaks Near Me tracks local cases of a wide range of dangerous diseases.

The tool will alert you when contagious illnesses have been found in your community, and even lets you post about your own diagnosis. The app tracks both human and animal diseases—everything from swine flu to chickenpox to West Nile virus.

The Swine Flu App
During last year’s swine flu epidemic, researchers from Harvard Medical School released this comprehensive, reliable app equipped with everything you need to know about the dangerous disease, including diagnostic tests and prevention tips. It also provides location-based hotlines and emergency telephone numbers.

Harvard’s app is particularly useful to businesses. It has an entire section devoted to helping employers educate employees about flu prevention, and learn how to create a pandemic business plan.

Medslogscreenshot of smartphone app called "Home Remedies"
If you catch a bacterial infection or have a high fever, your doctor is likely to prescribe medications to help you get well. But certain drugs, especially antibiotics, require frequent and long-term dosages. The Medslog app helps you track all of your medications and reminds you when to take them. Users can simply enter items like prescription drugs or eye drops, as well as the dose and time. The app also lets users input data such as blood pressure and blood sugar. Users can even choose to e-mail their data to a doctor.

One of the simplest ways to prevent getting the flu this year is to get an annual flu shot. But during times of high demand, shot locations can be hard to find, especially in rural areas. The FluShotter app makes getting a flu shot easy. FluShotter contains information about thousands of locations where users can receive flu shots. The app tracks your shot history and can contain the records for multiple users—ensuring that the whole family is equipped to fight the flu this year.

101 Home Remedies
Luckily, there are even apps for the thousands of people who do end up getting sick this flu season. One of our favorites is 101 Home Remedies, which provides quick, natural remedies for many common ailments.

In addition to containing soothing treatments for the flu, the app has information about how to lessen its symptoms, like coughs and muscle cramps. 101 Home Remedies contains quick and natural remedies for everything from asthma to unexpected weight loss.