Seniors May Want to Take a Closer Look at How
Smartphone Apps are Changing Healthcare
The field is growing so fast it has spurned a
million-person study and an online magazine to medical professional
aware of the latest apps
By Tucker Sutherland, editor
May 4, 2013 - Even senior citizens, not
often the most interested in new ways of doing things, have probably
heard "There's an app for that!" It refers to the
applications available for smart phones.
Seniors should pay close attention to the new wave of
sophisticated apps offering stunning medical help - like an EKG to check
your heart, and apps that check blood pressure and heart rate. Among the
most amazing is one that helps people with artificial hands determine
the grip they want to use.
“Double-amputee Jason Koger used to fly to visit a
clinician when he wanted to adjust the grips on his bionic hands. Now,
he's got an app instead,” according to an Associated Press report in
“Koger this week demonstrated the i-limb ultra
revolution, a prosthetic developed by the British firm Touch Bionics.
Using a stylus and an iPhone, Koger can choose any of 24 grip patterns
that best suit his needs.”
One company offers radar beam for in-home monitoring of vital signs,
activities of daily living and falls; another collects data from motion,
temperature, door, chair, bed, pill box sensors, caller ID information
to catch telephone scams
The miraculous app – announced last month – is part
of what the company dubed as the
i-limb ultra revolution,
which uses a biosim
available for download from the Apple App Store and compatible with
several Apple devices.
The AP reports the price tag on the package is
But, don’t be misled to think all these medical
apps are super expensive. You may find some free but most of the most
sophisticated cost between $100 and $200.
AP feature story by
Lauran Neergaard, finds a number of these helpful healthcare apps in the
“It's not a "Star Trek" tricorder, but by hooking a
variety of gadgets onto a smartphone you could almost get a complete
physical — without the paper gown or even a visit to the doctor's
office”, writes Neergaard.
He reports how easy it is to use a smartphone app
to check your blood pressure are even perform an EKG on the screen.
“Plug in a few more devices and you could have
photos of your eardrum (Look, no infection!) and the back of your eye,
listen to your heartbeat, chart your lung function, even get a
sonogram,” according to Neergaard.
“If this sounds like a little too much DIY medical
care, well, the idea isn't to self-diagnose with Dr. iPhone. But
companies are rapidly developing miniature medical devices that tap the
power of the ubiquitous smartphone in hopes of changing how people
monitor their own health.”
Reporter Neergaard says the University of
California, San Francisco is trying to enroll a million people in its
Health eHeart Study to learn if smartphone tracking can prevent
Dr. Jeff Olgin, the chief of cardiology at UCSF and
one of the principal investigators, told Drew Joseph of the
San Francisco Chronicle,
“"We're trying to take as much of the in-person visit and allow people
to do that at home as frequently and easily as possible."
“Mobile apps will monitor and send heart rates to
the researchers. A special phone case will perform electrocardiograms.
Wireless cuffs will transmit blood pressure readings. The study will
also track people's sleep habits, diet, alcohol use and exercise
patterns in hopes of being able to predict and treat heart disease,”
Heidi Dohse, 49, is one of those already enrolled
in the UCSF study. She has spent much of her adulthood monitoring a
pacemaker implanted into her chest at the age of 19 to repair
arrhythmias, or rapid irregular heartbeats.
For years, that’s meant that Dohse, has had to fly
several times a year from her New York home to California for check-ups
with the medical team at UC San Francisco that performed the life-saving
procedure to correct her heart rhythms when she was a teenager.
Those time-consuming trips are no longer as
necessary since she’s enrolled in the ambitious online cardiovascular
study – Health eHeart - that harnesses the power of mobile technology
to monitor patients using their smartphones and send the information to
doctors who can analyze the data and provide instant feedback.
“Because I live in New York and my UCSF doctors are
here in San Francisco, I can use all these mobile devices and tools to
feel like I’m still a patient of theirs,” Dohse said. “It’s one of the
reasons my staying with UCSF makes sense.”
Interested in joining UCSF’s Health eHeart Study? Click
to learn more.
Through the Health eHeart Study, which launched in
March, physicians hope to better understand how the heart functions and
to develop new ways to predict and prevent cardiovascular disease. The
study is funded by the Salesforce.com Foundation.
But, if you are still not convinced these medical
apps are going to play a big part in health care, you should be aware
that the field is so big there is already an online magazine for medical
professionals reporting on the latest new smarphone applications for use
iMedicalApps, says it is
the “leading online publication” for medical professionals, patients,
and analysts interested in mobile medical technology and health care
“Our physician editors lead a team of physicians,
allied health professionals, medical trainees, and mHealth analysts in
providing reviews, research, and commentary of mobile medical
technology. Our publication is heavily based on our own experiences in
the hospital and clinic setting.
There is no question that the mobile device apps
are in healthcare to stay and seniors may live healthier, happier lives
with a little help from their smartphone, even if it is just a phone
call or text message for help.
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