If you're recommending apps to your patients, you're already ahead in the mHealth game. Mobile health is a great way to keep patients mindful of their own treatment, while giving you peace of mind and reducing unnecessary office visits. If you're a family practitioner, chances are your patients use a wide variety of mobile apps--and rely on them, too. Since your patients are likely more comfortable with app use, they'll get more out of the apps you recommend. Family doctors should start with these five to increase treatment adherence, reduce missed appointments, and help patients take control of their health.
Fooducate is unique amongst other food apps because it focuses on nutrition, not just calories. The platform has a letter rating system, with "grades" based off nutrients and ingredients. A barcode scanner allows users to instantly access nutritional information and an item's rating in-stores, so it's also a handy tool for meal planning. Fooducate really comes in handy for patients who have special dietary needs, like allergies, intolerances, or diabetes. Tips and guides in the app help patients understand what foods are safe for restricted diets, and community chat boards let users exchange recipes and ideas for making healthful meals family-friendly. Fooducate was even named one of the best apps of 2014 by a physician panel.
Merck Home Symptom Guide App
Keep your patients far away from the WebMD fear spiral, and reduce your numbers of panicked off-hours calls, with the Merck Home Symptom Guide. This app has an extensive database that helps patients rule out whether an Emergency Room visit is necessary, or if a medical problem will resolve itself in time. Despite the guide's detailed symptom descriptions, the interface is extremely user-friendly, so your patients won't be overwhelmed. The guide has clear indicators for when a symptom indicates an urgent condition, and there's also a handy guide to medical tests, to help your patients understand what to expect if they do seek treatment.
$2.00, currently free on special
If your patients need to improve their exercise habits, and have fierce family video game competitions, point them to Teemo. The app is based around interval training, with quick workouts kids can do while waiting for the school bus, or parents can complete on a lunch break. The varying difficulty levels allow kids and adults to share in the fun, and you can choose to exercise to lose weight or just to maintain wellness. Teemo presents workouts in an adventure interface. Each "challenge" has a storyline, so a series of lunges becomes a river-crossing mission in the Amazon. And, Teemo allows users to compete against each other in fitness challenges, or compete against other teams. Encourage your patients to form a family team and challenge friends in their neighborhoods, or even offer to go head-to-head with patients yourself.
Making sure your patients have access to their own health information is one of the best ways to build trust, improve treatment adherence and engage patients in their own medical decisions. HealthSpek is an app that allows patients to build a medical history, securely store records and documents, and safely communicate with physicians. The app is full of features geared at families, and does everything from medication tracking to storing patients' insurance and emergency contact information. HealthSpek has a legal document dashboard that stores items like power of attorney, which is a great resource for families with chronic care patients.
If your patients have a hard time fitting an annual appointment in between soccer practice, grocery shopping and PTA meetings, encourage them to try Cozi. The calendar app can be accessed by multiple family members at once. In other words, as soon as a patient schedules an appointment at your practice, their whole family knows--decreasing the risk of double-booking. The app integrates with Google calendars and can send weekly agendas and reminders via email, which also helps patients with medication adherence schedules. Cozi also allows users to export a read-only view of their calendar, which they can email to you for appointment scheduling purposes. Recommend Cozi to your patients if they're frequent reschedulers or even no-shows.
No app will do a physician's job for them, but these can make things a whole lot easier. Help your patients control their health by working it into everyday life. They'll reap benefits, and you'll build trust with your patients that will benefit your practice for years to come.
Do you "prescribe" any apps to your patients?
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