Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Are Health Apps the Cure for Anything That Ails You?

Currently health apps do not have to pass any standards for scientific validity. In fact, some could be harmful!
This article gives an overview of current regulation and evaluation efforts by the government, medical societies, and others.

Excerpts from the Health Care Blog item  Are Health Apps the Cure for Anything That Ails You?

With about 9,000 consumer health apps currently available in the iTunes store, it seems like almost all smart phone users can download their way to better health these days.

“Apple isn’t testing apps for their scientific validity,” said Dan Cohen, a social worker who has reviewed apps for their effectiveness.

Given the stakes, it’s no surprise that the government is starting to regulate these smart phone applications. Just last month, the Federal Trade Commission brought its first cases against the makers of two health apps. Each claimed to cure acne with colored lights emitted from cell phones.

“Smart phones make our lives easier in countless ways, but unfortunately when it comes to curing acne, there’s no app for that,” the FTC chairman said, when announcing the crackdown. The agency cited the makers of AcneApp, which had sold about 11,600 downloads of its $1.99 app, and the developers of AcnePwner, which sold 3,300 downloads of its 99 cent app.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), meanwhile, proposed regulations this summer for apps that could be considered medical devices. The agency, which sought comments on its proposals until Oct. 19, may focus on apps that are accessories to established medical devices used by doctors, such as smart phone apps that can display X-rays.

It could also regulate apps that transform smart phones into medical devices by using sensors or other attachments. Already, the FDA has approved gadgets that turn smart phones into blood pressure-monitoring cuffs and pocket ultrasound machines.

Apps that connect to consumer devices, such as blood glucose meters, may be regulated, too, if the apps display or analyze the meters’ readings, the FDA says.

The majority of health apps will almost certainly not be considered medical devices and will escape government scrutiny. But some app developers are voluntarily going through the laborious FDA clearance process, in part, to convince the medical community that their products have real clinical value.

WellDoc, a Baltimore-based health care company, got FDA approval last year for its DiabetesManager, which provides automated diabetes coaching for patients. The app also was tested in a randomized clinical trial conducted by the University of Maryland’s medical school, which found that patients had a statistically significant improvement in their blood glucose levels after using the app for a one-year period.

Scientists have found flaws with other apps.

When a George Washington University professor conducted the first content analysis of behavior-modification apps, she discovered that few of the 47 smoking-cessation apps available in 2009 followed evidence-based health guidelines. Lorien Abroms, a public health professor, concluded that the apps had “serious weaknesses” because they did not link to quit lines or clinics or suggest ways for smokers to get social support from family and friends.

November 2, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Show Off Your Apps” Winners of the NLM software development challenge

From the NLM (National Library of Medicine) Web page

Show Off Your Apps Winners And Honorable Mentions

 

175th Anniversary Video ContestThe National Library of Medicine (NLM), wishes to congratulate the five winning entries in the Library’s software development challenge, “Show off Your Apps: Innovative Uses of NLM Information.” In addition, we thank all Entrants for participating in the Library’s first software development challenge!

 

Winners

 

GLAD4U

GLAD4U (Gene List Automatically Derived For You) is a new, free web-based gene retrieval and prioritization tool, which takes advantage of the NCBI’s Entrez Programming Utilities (E-utilities). Upon the submission of a query, GLAD4U retrieves the corresponding publications with eSearch before using Pubmed ID-Entrez Gene ID mapping tables provided by the NCBI to create a list of genes. A statistics-based prioritization algorithm ranks those genes into a list that is output to the user, usually within less than a minute. The GLAD4U user interface accepts any valid queries for PubMed, and its output page displays the ranked gene list and information associated with each gene, chronologically-ordered supporting publications, along with a summary of the run and links for file exports and for further functional enrichment analyses.

 

iAnatomy

Learning anatomy interactively with a touchscreen device is  dynamic and engaging. Having it as an app, makes the information available anywhere, anytime. iAnatomy is an exciting electronic anatomy atlas for iPhone/iPod touch. The images are interactive and zoomable. If a label is touched, the name of the structure is shown.  Images span from the face to the pelvis. The face and neck images and the female pelvis images are reconstructed from data from the National Library of Medicine’s Visible Human Project. iAnatomy is designed to stand on its own and does not require an ongoing internet connection. Learning is reinforced with multiple quiz modes. Latin medical terminology is also included as an option for international use.

 

KNALIJ

The KNALIJ web application addresses the challenges and opportunities posed by ‘big data’ with a new generation of information visualization tools. It offers researchers, students and health consumers alike a technology platform with capabilities to rapidly discover and gain insights from the copious amounts of information being made available from the National Libraries of Medicine (NLM), through its data repositories such as PubMed. KNALIJ recognizes the ‘connections’ linking bio-medical and life sciences research and researchers around the world, and visualizes those linkages. This makes them clear, intuitive, and even playful by providing interactive ‘information communities’ for exploration, analysis, and education.

 

NLMplus

NLMplus is an innovative semantic search and discovery application developed by WebLib LLC, a small business in Maryland. NLMplus provides enhanced access to the vast collection of health and biomedical information and services made available by the world’s largest medical library, the National Library of Medicine (NLM).

 

Quertle

Quertle is an innovative website for searching and investigating the biomedical literature. Quertle uses advanced linguistic methods to find the most relevant documents instead of traditional keyword searching, which often returns an overwhelming list of uninformative articles. Quertle is geared to active life science professionals – both researchers and health care providers – and saves them considerable time and effort in finding the literature they need.  Quertle, available on the web using any browser, simultaneously searches multiple sources of life science literature, including MEDLINE.

 

Honorable Mentions

 

BioDigital Human Platform

The BioDigital Human Platform simplifies the understanding of health topics by visualizing anatomy, conditions and treatments. Similar to how geo-browsers such as Google Earth serve as the basis for thousands of location based applications, the BioDigital Human Platform will open up entirely new ways to augment healthcare applications. From the visual representation of concepts found on health portals, to step-by-step virtual guidance for surgical planning, to EHR integration so patients can finally understand their diagnosis, the BioDigital Human Platform will meet the learning demands of 21st century medicine.

 

DailyMedPlus

DailyMedPlus is an online application providing integrated access to pharmaceutical information available from various databases provided by the National Library of Medicine (NLM).  DailyMedPlus offers a high-performance unified search engine providing ranked, highlighted and full-text search results for patients and healthcare professionals who seek updated prescribing information.  As the only product of its kind, the application supports searching NLM databases for pharmaceutical products using trade and generic names, medical conditions, indications, contra-indications, side-effects, and also allows for the searching of these products by their physical characteristics (“red round”), providing image results in an in line intuitive layout.  Users benefit from comprehensive search results of more than 90,000 products displayed in over 26,000 organized and digitally curated monographs designed for browsing on a wide variety of desktop and mobile platforms.

 

Drug Diary

Drug Diary is an iOS (iPhone / iPod Touch / iPad) application that allows users to quickly build an inventory of prescribed and OTC medications they are currently taking or have taken in the past along with information on the associated prescribers and pharmacies.  From there, they are able to take notes outlining their experiences with these medications and generate reports to share with care providers.  Data entry is made quick and easy through the use of a locally cached copy of the NLM’s RxTerms dataset and intelligent data entry screens that require little to no typing.  The app leverages the data present in RxTerms to allow one tap access to another NLM source, MedLine Plus, which is a web portal that provides detailed information on the medications in the user’s library.

 

Molecules

Molecules is a 3-D molecular modeling application for Apple’s iOS devices, including the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.  It pushes the limits of mobile graphics processors by using advanced techniques to make realistic renderings of molecular models.  A touch-based interface allows for intuitive manipulation of these structures, so that they can be viewed from any angle and at any scale. While originally designed for researchers to view and present biomolecule structures on the go, the most popular use of Molecules has proven to be in education.  Chemistry teachers are using this application to explain common molecular structures to their students, and biology professors are demonstrating the form and function of biomolecules.  Many students already have iOS devices of their own, so they are able to make the lesson more personal by following along on their own iPhone or iPad.  The popularity of this approach is seen in the over 1.7 million downloads of this application to date.

 

ORKOV

Orkov is a Greek term for Hippocratic Oath that medical professionals, especially, physicians take all over the world. Orkov, an iPhone App for iOS 5 platform as well as for Android OS is a productivity smart phone application for hundreds of thousands of medical researchers who are the end users of PubMed.gov data all over the world.  Orkov empowers many researchers to search and browse research abstracts and full text research articles from the repository of PubMed.gov’s over 5,000+ research journals.  Orkov utilizes publicly available web service interface of PubMed.gov.  Majority of the features of PubMed.gov are wrapped into a powerful iPhone/Andorid App that is easy to use and navigate.

November 2, 2011 Posted by | Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Professional Health Care Resources | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Doctors Going Digital

 

http://spinabifidainfo.com/infographics/the-doctors-tech-toolbox/

 

Click here for related comments by Krafty [Medical] Librarian

 

July 31, 2011 Posted by | Librarian Resources | , , , , | Leave a comment

Mobile Medical Resources Geared Towards Health Professionals (Lists, Guides, and More)

These resources may also be of interest to the general public. This guide, of course, is not all inclusive!
Some sites are fee-based.

Information, Lists

** Mobile Device Information (Medical College of Wisconsin)
Includes links to about 30 free mobile device resources and free iPhone & iPod touch Applications

**Kresge Library List (Scripps Clinic and Green Hospital)
Links to Medical RSS Feeds, Medical Podcasts, Mobile Ready Web Sites and Resources, PDF or PDB Format Materials,         Medical Apps, PubMed Search Apps, and Consumer Health and Medicine Apps.
Last updated December 2009.

**Smart Phone Apps (University of Maryland)
Sites are arranged by category (anatomy,cardiology, clinical tools, drug information, etc)

**Pepid Medical Information Resources (Pepid LLC)
Fee-based applications for health care practitioners (physicians, nurses, etc) and students

Includes Guides, Advice, and Reviews

**iMedical Apps online medical publication written by a team of physicians and medical students who provide commentary and reviews of mobile medical technology and applications (iPad/iPhone & Android)

**Medical and Healthcare iPhone Apps from the BMJ Group (British Medical Journal)
Includes (free) Student BMJ with articles, news, educational materials, blogs, and more.

**Mobile Device Resources for Clinicians (University of Kentucky)
Includes free resources, guide to apps for medical students, mobile device options

**Mobile Apps for Medicine (Mercer University)
Includes free resources, advice/reviews

Sources

**MedLib-L discussion list

** LibGuides

August 12, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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