Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

How mobile is transforming healthcare: Report

Immediately thought of my Liberian FB friends, a nurse and dean at a community college, a healthcare screener upcountry in a small town (my Peace Corps site back in 1980/81), and a Methodist deacon (one of my former students). All went above and beyond the call of duty during the Ebola crisis.
Back in 2009 I participated in a service project group in Liberia. Was taken aback by noticing that at least half of those over 18 seemed to have cell phones. Believed this was quite good. The roads overall are pretty bad, unpaved, and nearly impassible during the 3 month rainy season. So the cell phones really keep people connected, and relay information well. I get rather irked when I read comments (FB, editorials, etc) that say poor people should not have cell phones. Well, I strongly disagree, overall I believe they save money (think transportation costs for many information needs at the least!). How arrogant for some of “the haves” to believe “the have nots” are not using their scarce resources wisely.
Not sure what I can do to advance mobile health in Liberia, but I will do what I can.
Thanks for posting this, I have forwarded this to my Liberian FB friends. Most likely stuff they already know. The deacon obtained his PhD in theology in DC, the nurse/deacon is very aware of technology, and the healthcare screener is from Nigeria and has a good education and is very much a world citizen.

ScienceRoll

The Economist came up with a report about How mobile is transforming healthcare including infographics and analyses. You can download the report here.

According to a new survey, mobile technology has the potential to profoundly reshape the healthcare industry, altering how care is delivered and received.

Executives in both the public and private sector predict that new mobile devices and services will allow people to be more proactive in attending to their health and well-being.

These technologies promise to improve outcomes and cut costs, and make care more accessible to communities that are currently underserved. Mobile health could also facilitate medical innovation by enabling scientists to harness the power of big data on a large scale.

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February 7, 2015 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] MyFitnessPal Works If You Use It | The Health Care Blog

MyFitnessPal Works If You Use It | The Health Care Blog. (November 24, 2014)

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 9.33.22 AMYou may have seen some news regarding a study MyFitnessPalrecently did with UCLA.

I wanted to take a minute to address this study, since we participated in it directly. We are excited that we got to work with some very smart people to answer a question we also wanted to know the answer to. We jumped at the opportunity to find out—is having your physician introduce you to the app and help you sign up enough to kickstart a health journey?

What we learned is that just introducing people to MyFitnessPal wasn’t enough. People have to be ready and willing to do the hard work.

The app itself does work—if you use it. Our own data and the data from the study show that the more you log on, the more you use the app, the more success you will see. Users that logged in the most lost the most weight. In fact, we already know that 88% of users who log for 7 days lose weight.

We make tools designed to make it as clear and simple as possible for you to see the path to achieving your fitness goals. We are not, however, making a magic bullet—because there is no magic bullet. Ultimately, you’re the one who has to do the work.

And my, how much work you guys have done.

You have:

  • lost over 180 million pounds
  • logged over 14.5 billion foods
  • burned 364 billion calories
  • supported each other with over 82 million status likes in the last year alone
  • and much more!

The first thing I say when people talk to me about MyFitnessPal is that user success is our true North. We are relentlessly focused on user success. We believe that if you are succeeding at reaching your goals then we will succeed as a company. We’re going to keep working to make our app even more accessible, simple to use, and motivating so we can help even more people succeed.

Of course, it’s our job to make the app as engaging and easy to use as possible. It’s not exactly where we want to be, yet. But we’ll keep working hard to get there. To that end, we’ve made lots of updates since this study was done. From a product perspective, in the last year and a half we’ve:

  • streamlined the logging experience
  • made logging streaks more visible
  • added more ways to get push notifications and reminders
  • added insights to help you get more out of logging
  • made a recipe tool that allows you to quickly log recipes from anywhere across the web

As long as you keep working on your goals, we’re going to work on better ways to help you get there.

Thanks for everything you do, making the MyFitnessPal community so amazing, and helping us toward our vision of making an even healthier world.

Mike Lee is the Founder and CEO of MyFitnessPal

November 28, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

States’ Apps Target Health and Safety

States’ Apps Target Health and Safety.

Excerpts from the 26 June 2014 article at Pew Chartitable Trust

Among the state apps focused exclusively on health or public safety:

  • The Minnesota Air app provides real-time information about air quality conditions in 10 reporting areas across the state, as well as pollution forecasts for the Twin Cities and Rochester.
  • The Every Woman Counts app in California lets women know when it’s time to make an appointment for mammograms and Pap tests.  Users enter information about their screening history and select a schedule for their exams, and the app sends them reminders.
  • The MyVaxIndiana app enables parents to keep track of their children’s vaccination records. The information comes from a state immunization system and is updated by health care workers, schools and doctors.
  • The NMWatch app in New Mexico uses GPS mapping to allow residents, emergency managers and responders to monitor up-to-date wildfire activity. It not only helps people who need to know whether to evacuate, but it alerts those with respiratory problems who might be affected by thick smoke in their neighborhood.

Connected Citizens

More state agencies that oversee health or emergency management have recognized that they need to embrace mobile technology to stay connected with citizens.

“It’s a natural progression,” said Theresa Pardo, director of the Center for Technology in Government at the University at Albany, a research center that focuses on innovation in government technology. “I think these new apps are really powerful. What underlies them is a massive effort to identify and integrate in sophisticated ways data that is relevant to an individual, particularly in the event of a crisis.”

Communicating critical, life-saving information during emergencies and directing the public to services after disasters is an enormous challenge for states, said Karen Cobuluis, spokeswoman for the National Emergency Management Association, the professional association for state emergency management directors.

 

…..

A Long Way to Go

While states are moving rapidly to make advances in digital technology, they still have a long way to go when it comes to overseeing their apps and mobile device projects.

In an October 2013 survey of state chief information officers, 58 percent called their state’s efforts to manage apps and mobile device projects “mostly” or “totally” fragmented and uncoordinated.

The association’s Robinson said that most states today don’t have an “enterprise-wide, well-coordinated roadmap” for investing in and deploying mobile technology. “It’s serious for the states because of the implications. There’s no shared strategic direction,” he said. “We need to address how we’re managing mobile devices.”

Robinson of NASCIO said that in many states, apps are being launched agency by agency, which creates more complexity. Plus, states often lack the in-house technical expertise to develop their own apps, so they’re forced to use outside contractors.

 

 

 

June 28, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Safety, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Wellocracy aims to help trackers choose and use health apps and devices

From the 25 October 2012 blog post by Patrick J. Skerrett, Executive Editor, Harvard Health

Screen Shot 2013-10-26 at 8.27.09 AM

Screen Shot 2013-10-26 at 8.30.10 AMScreen Shot 2013-10-26 at 8.31.14 AM

There’s something satisfying about getting immediate feedback about exercise, sleep, and other activities. That’s why more and more people are joining the “quantified-self” movement. It involves formal tracking of health and habits, usually using apps and devices that feed data to them—from heart rate, activity, and sleep monitors to Bluetooth connected scales. I haven’t yet become a full-fledged member, partly because having so many apps and connected devices on the market makes it hard to decide which ones are worth trying.

I’m hoping that Wellocracy will help. This website, launched by the Harvard-affiliatedCenter for Connected Health, aims to give people like me impartial information about fitness trackers, mobile health apps, and other self-help technologies.

Wellocracy lists dozens of sleep trackers, wearable activity trackers, mobile running apps, and mobile pedometer apps, each with a mini-review and a “what we wish it had” listing. The site lets you compare apps and devices in each of the four categories. The compare feature isn’t yet as helpful as those from Consumer Health Reports, but that may be coming.

The site also provides a guide for beginners like me, and offers tips for adding activity “bursts” throughout the day.

“There are millions of people struggling to eat well, exercise, manage a chronic disease or decrease other health risks. Wellocracy will help them select and use digital health tools, understand their individual motivations, and make incremental lifestyle changes that can easily be incorporated into busy schedules,” said Wellocracy founder, Dr. Joseph C. Kvedar, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School.

One theme the site promotes is “stickiness.” That means finding motivational strategies, apps, and devices that help you stay on track to achieve your goals. You can calculate your “stickiness factor” on the website.

Maybe the information on Wellocracy is enough to nudge me from contemplation to action.

Related Resources

 

 

These may be helpful when selecting health apps

 

  • Set realistic expectations
  • Avoid apps that promise too much
  • Research the developers
  • Choose apps that use techniques you’ve heard of
  • See what other users say
  • Test apps before committing
  •  iMedical apps has mobile medical app reviews and commentary by medical professionals. Most apps are about  apps geared toward professionals and are not free.

         The iMedical app forum now includes a medical librarian corner, with some patient/consumer apps

 

 

October 26, 2013 Posted by | Health Education (General Public) | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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