Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Press release] Smartphone apps just as accurate as wearable devices for tracking physical activity

English: Image of an HTC Touch2 smartphone, al...

English: Image of an HTC Touch2 smartphone, also known as the HTC MEGA or HTC T3333. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Smartphone apps just as accurate as wearable devices for tracking physical activity 

From the 11 February 2015 Penn State press release

JAMA Paper Among the First to Compare Smartphone App vs. Wearable Device Accuracy

PHILADELPHIA — Although wearable devices have received significant attention for their ability to track an individual’s physical activity, most smartphone applications are just as accurate, according to a new research letter in JAMA. The study tested 10 of the top-selling smartphone apps and devices in the United States by having 14 participants walk on a treadmill for 500 and 1,500 steps, each twice (for a total of 56 trials), and then recording their step counts. Led by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine and the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, this study is a follow-up to a recent JAMA viewpoint suggesting that there’s little evidence that wearable devices alone can change behavior and improve health for those that need it mos

“Since step counts are such an important part of how these devices and apps measure physical activity, including calculating distance or calories burned, their accuracy is key,” said senior author Mitesh S. Patel, MD, MBA, MS, assistant professor of Medicine and Health Care Management at Penn and an attending physician at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. “Compared to the one to two percent of adults in the U.S. that own a wearable device, more than 65 percent of adults carry a smartphone. Our findings suggest that smartphone apps could prove to be a more widely accessible and affordable way of tracking health behaviors.”

 

February 15, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] mHealth still untapped resource for docs

From the 18 April article at Healthcare IT news

mHealth still untapped resource for docs
People cite privacy concerns for lack of adoption

For the most part, providers are still wary over the mHealth movement. And this caution just might be preventing them from big care improvement opportunities, say the findings of a new study.

The study, commissioned by mobile professional services firm Mobiquity, finds some 70 percent of consumers use mobile apps every day to track physical activity and calorie intake, but only 40 percent share that information with their doctor.

[See also: mHealth market scales to new heights.]

Privacy concerns and the need for a doctor’s recommendation are the two factors hindering the use of mobile and fitness apps for mHealth reasons, say officials with the Boston-based Mobiquity, which produced “Get Mobile, Get Healthy: The Appification of Health and Fitness.”

That, officials said, means the healthcare community has to take a more active role in promoting these types of apps and uses.

“Our study shows there’s a huge opportunity for medical professionals, pharmaceutical companies and health organizations to use mobile to drive positive behavior change and, as a result, better patient outcomes,” said Scott Snyder, Mobiquity’s president and chief strategy officer, in a press release. “The gap will be closed by those who design mobile health solutions that are indispensable and laser-focused on users’ goals, and that carefully balance data collection with user control and privacy.”

[See also: FCC creates mHealth task force.]

The study, conducted between March 5 and 11, focused on 1,000 consumers who use or plan to use health and fitness mobile apps.

According to the study:

  • 34 percent of mobile health and fitness app users say they would use their apps more often if their doctor recommended it
  • 61 percent say privacy concerns are hindering their adoption of mobile apps. Other concerns include time investment (24 percent), uncertainty on how to start (9 percent) and not wanting to know about health issues (6 percent).
  • 73 percent said they are more healthy because they use a smartphone and apps to track health and fitness
  • 53 percent discovered, through an app, that they were eating more calories than they realized
  • 63 percent intend to continue or increase their mobile health tracking over the next five years
  • 55 percent plan to try wearable devices like pedometers, wristbands or smartwatches
  • Using a smartphone to track health and fitness is more important than using the phone for social networking (69 percent), shopping (68 percent), listening to music (60 percent) or even making/receiving phone calls (30 percent).

“We believe 2014 is the year that mobile health will make the leap from early adopters to mainstream,” Mobiquity officials said in their introduction to the survey. “The writing is on the wall: from early rumors about a native health-tracking app in the next version of Apple’s iPhone operating system to speculation that Apple will finally launch the much-anticipated iWatch, joining Google, Samsung and Pebble in the race to own the emerging wearables market.”

[See also: Realizing the mHealth promise.]

 

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May 6, 2014 Posted by | health care | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Physicians discuss willingness to write prescriptions for health apps

From the 18th January 2014 at Scope (published by Stanford Medicine)

By   

health_appsThe mobile health market is rapidly growing, and it’s estimated that within five years 50 percent of mobile device users will have downloaded mobile health apps. While past surveys haveshown that patients are eager for doctors to recommend such apps, it remains unclear if physicians feel comfortable prescribing them.

Over on MedPage Today, writer Kristina Fiore explores the potential of physicians prescribing health apps, such as BlueStar, which is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and helps patients monitor diabetes. Several of the clinicians contacted for the story said they are open to the idea, assuming that patients are comfortable using the app and that data shows the app to be effective. From the article:

Sue Kirkman, MD, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said a prescription app could be helpful, but its usefulness may be limited in that the patients “who want the app and are willing to enter data and respond to prompts may already be the more proactive ones.”

Kirkman added that she hopes potential insurer reimbursement for apps opens the door wider to support of reimbursement for self-management tools such as contact with diabetes educators.

“Right now, pretty much only face-to-face visits are covered, not the ongoing contacts by phone, fax, email, etc., that are really needed to help someone sustain behavior changes and self-manage their diabetes optimally,” she said.

Previously: Text message reminders shown effective in boosting flu shot rates among pregnant womenTexts may help people with diabetes manage care, Why physicians should consider patients’ privacy before recommending health, fitness apps and Designing a mobile app to help patients and doctors identify personalized food triggers
Photo by Intel Free Press

Will Docs Write Rx for Apps?[Medpage Today]

Doctors can now write scripts for the first prescription-only app — but the question remains whether they’ll pick up a prescription pad to write for mobile technology.

The app, BlueStar, is a tracker for patients with diabetes. It analyzes logged blood glucose data and offers advice based on trends it detects — such as telling patients to adjust their diets based on sugar levels after meals. Clinicians also receive a report on their patients’ progress.

Parent company WellDoc just won $20 million in venture financing for the app, and the company has a track record of success with online disease management tools and applications. WellDoc’s argument is that better blood sugar control will lead to better patients outcomes, and, thus, less spending on healthcare in the long run.
   Read entire article here

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January 21, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, health care | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Who is making your medical app?

Who is making your medical app?.

Buyer beware!!
iMedicalApps was created for health professionals. The reviewed apps are basically for professional use.
However, there the Forum section (now offline for revision) did at one time include a health science librarian section which I believe included consumer level app reviews/advice.

From the [15 ?] December blog at iMedicalApp

Medical apps are one of the fastest growing sectors in the app market. Medical apps broadly encompass any mobile app that is health related whether targeted to patients, physicians, students, etc. These apps range from providing easy accessibility to previously published texts, health advice, health monitoring for chronic diseases, treatment and dosing guidelines, etc.

 

A new responsibility that arises in the medical app world is management of transparency and conflict of interest issues. Generally, medical professionals are sensitive to concerns of industry involvement in medical education. There are policies in place that manage issues surrounding COI. These include regulating free drug samples, dinners, financial compensation, etc.

However, despite astute awareness when it comes to the aforementioned examples, there remains the question of why there is not more COI sensitivity in the medical app world. Consider for example an app made by a pharmaceutical company – it can suggest its own medicine for a specific disease, or even more subtly, list its drug first.

A recently published book, Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education and Practice(Lo and Field, 2009) lists potential sources of conflict by the pharmaceutical industry. Within medical subspecialties, medical professionals are beginning to notice the importance of authorship disclosure and transparency of the role of the industry (dermatologypsychiatry, to name a couple).

The paper sheds some light on the ethics surrounding increasing transparency for the medical app consumer. The paper points out the need for an increased awareness by all for the need for transparency as more and more of these apps are targeted at non-professional individuals who are potentially more susceptible as they are often not aware of COI issues in this context.

The utility of medical apps is clear–they will provide increasing value in management of patient care as we continue to move to electronically based medicine and medical recording. The need for increased transparency of authorship and industry relations is also clear. Medical apps have been added to the healthcare provider’s armamentarium to provide quality care. Just as we exert caution in avoiding biases with medications, treatments, and medical technologies, we must treat apps we recommend for our patients with the same good conscience.

 

 

January 2, 2014 Posted by | Finding Aids/Directories, Librarian Resources | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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