A doctor pointing at a phone

App Insight Part 1: Take Two Apps and Text Me in the Morning

23 Dec 2014 by Tanya Leach

A patient might forget his medicine at home. But more than likely, he’s practically got his phone surgically attached.

As the next era of medicine becomes increasingly mobile, more doctors are prescribing something already at their patients’ fingertips: an app to download.

Need to measure blood pressure? Monitor blood sugar? Chart heart activity? There’s an app for that.

Smartphones are helping doctors encourage patients to do everything from manage their diabetes, to remember to take medicine on time.

These types of apps are making it more convenient for patients — especially those with chronic conditions — to keep track of information that otherwise could be tedious to monitor.

Which apps are best?

So which apps should doctors be prescribing? And how can your practice get in on the mobile app movement? That may depend on how specialized you want the app to be.

You could create an app to show patients how long they’ll have to sit in your waiting room to see a doctor. Or, the app could be a map to direct them from the parking garage to their specialist’s office.

You could take advantage of an app someone else has already created. The best ones make it easy and immediate for people to track their own symptoms, statistics and lifestyle choices. They range from diet and fitness, to apps meant to help people deal with chronic conditions such as diabetes. Maybe an app that sends personalized text messages about weight control could serve as motivation. Or, a prompt to follow the doctor’s orders and take medication daily could come automatically on a patient’s phone.

But, maybe you want even more personalized service. Some apps can let you share lab results or let patients ask questions directly.

Here are 10 free apps that rise to the top of the list

  1. LoseIt!

This weight-loss app records what you eat and how many calories you have left for the day. You can scan bar codes and sync LoseIt! with exercise apps to track your calories in vs. calories burned.

  1. iTriage

Here, you can evaluate your medical symptoms, learn about possible causes, find a doctor and make an appointment.

  1. GoodRx

How much will that prescription cost? Compare pharmacy prices.

  1. ZocDoc

Where can you find a nearby doctor who will accept your insurance plan? This app searches by ZIP code and can help you make an appointment.

  1. Period Tracker Lite

Women know one of the first questions at the doctor’s office is “When was your last period?” This makes it easy to track at the press of a button.

  1. WebMD Pain Coach

Living with chronic pain? This app offers physician-reviewed tips for conditions such as back, neck and nerve pain, fibromyalgia, migraines and arthritis. Users can track pain levels and triggers.

  1. Drugs.com Medication Guide

This is a patient-focused guide to look up drug information, identify pills, check interactions, and manage medication and adherence.

  1. Epocrates

This is a doctor-focused electronic physicians’ reference book. One of its newest features allows users to find consults and referrals in the provider directory.

  1. BlueStar Diabetes

This app helps patients manage type 2 diabetes. It offers personalized guidance to treatment. Users can share blood glucose numbers, medication, diet and exercise information with their provider.

  1. MyChart

Patients can get access to lab results, appointment information, current medications, immunization history and even private message their physician. Users must create an account through their healthcare provider.