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Mobile apps are increasingly becoming part of health care—for both patients and doctors. According to data gathered by GreatCall, 80 percent of physicians use smartphones and medical apps and 93 percent believe that mobile health apps can improve patient health. In 2014, consumer use of mobile health and fitness apps grew 87 percent faster than the overall industry. The top 10 mobile health apps generate up to 4 million free downloads a day. It’s almost certain that the Apple Watch and other wearable devices will drive mobile health app use in the months and years to come.
Right now, there are literally dozens of ways you can use iOS and Android device apps to manage your health. Here’s a round up of five free apps related to common health and medical concerns that seem to have experts buzzing and consumers downloading in 2015.
1. Chronic health conditions: Health Mapper
Health Mapper by Prosper is designed to help patients track a myriad of health conditions including but not limited to acne, asthma, COPD, heart disease, IBS, osteoporosis and Parkinson’s disease—Health Mapper’s app store page claims it’s “the app for monitoring ANY long-term health condition.”
Built alongside doctors, nurses and users, Health Mapper allows users to track symptoms, medications, exercise, stress and more; create charts to monitor things like symptom prevalence and medication effects; export data to your doctor; and set reminders to take your medication at specified intervals. It also works with Apple’s Health app so you can see the data it collects along with data collected by your other health and fitness tracking apps.
Requires iOS 6.0 or later; not currently available for Android
2. Ovulation and fertility: Glow
Winner of the 2014 Webby for best Health & Fitness app, Glow touts itself as “the world’s best ovulation calculator and fertility companion.” In a landscape rife with trackers, this one can tout some impressive results. In August 2014, the service took credit for 25,000 pregnancies; by April 2015, it took credit for 50,000.,
As with many apps, Glow educates while it tracks. Features include daily health tips, a cycles overview, advanced period tracker, ovulation calculator, and the ability to connect with other apps. Glow’s not just for the ladies. Since male infertility accounts for 40 percent of cases, an update released April 23, 2015, now allows men and women alike to track their reproductive health. Men’s tracking includes factors such as sleep duration, fitness, and proximity to heat.
Requires iOS 7.1 or later and Android 4.0 and up
3. Mental health: SAM
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. They affect 18 percent of the population age 18 and older. When anxiety arises, it can be isolating and crippling. While it’s important to seek the help of a professional health care provider, it’s also a relief to have something you can turn to in the moment.
SAM, which stands for self-help anxiety management, educates users about anxiety and offers them a range of self-help techniques to help manage it. Developed by psychologists, computer scientists and student users at the University of the West of England, SAM also allows users to track their anxiety, create an anxiety tool kit, check in on their level of anxiety in the moment, anonymously share experiences with other users, and more.
Requires iOS 7.0 or later and Android 4.0.3 and up
4. Medications: Pill Monitor
Nearly 70 percent of Americans take at least one prescription drug, and more than half take at least two, according to Mayo Clinic researchers. For many, remembering to take medications on time can be difficult. In some circumstances, missing a dose or two—or inadvertently taking an extra dose or two—can have serious consequences.
Medication tracking apps such as Pill Monitor by Maxwell Software, help users schedule reminders to take their prescription drugs as well as vitamins and over-the-counter drugs they take regularly. Pill Monitor comes recommended by 100 doctors in HealthTap’s 2014 AppRx Report, in which doctors chose the best health and medical apps of the year—it ranked No. 2 in the Top Medications Apps for iOS category.
Features include the ability to choose take, skip or snooze when you receive a pill reminder; set a different sound for each pill; manage pill information including side effects, the recommended dose, Rx number and more; add photos of pills, email logs to your health care providers and more.
Requires iOS 7.0 or later
5. First aid: The Red Cross First Aid App
Another HealthTap AppRx Report favorite, the American Red Cross’ First Aid app ranked No. 1 among Healthcare Services apps for Android and iOS. It’s no stranger to accolades, though. It’s been a long-time favorite listed on many top app lists.
In emergency situations, the First Aid app from the American Red Cross does not replace medical assistance, but it can provide the information you need to help in the meantime. It helps educate users on what to do in common first aid emergency situations through videos and step-by-step tutorials and also includes a Spanish translation toggle, safety tips to help you prepare for weather-related situations, interactive quizzes, and the ability to call 911 through the app.
Requires iOS 7.0 or later and Android 2.3.3 and up
Always consult your doctor with health concerns and dial 911 when a medical emergency occurs. If you need health insurance to help pay for health care expenses, visit healthedeals.com to research your options and get a quote.
1Khalaf, Simon. “Health and Fitness Apps Finally Take Off, Fueled by Fitness Fanatics.” Flurry. June 19, 2014. http://flurrymobile.tumblr.com/post/115192181465/health-and-fitness-apps-finally-take-off-fueled
2GreatCall. “Is Mobile Healthcare the Future? [Infographic].” http://www.greatcall.com/lp/is-mobile-healthcare-the-future-infographic.aspx
3Sen, Preetisha. “How Max Levchin’s Glow App Got 25,000 Women Pregnant.” Fortune. Aug. 27, 2014. http://fortune.com/2014/08/27/how-max-levchins-glow-app-got-25000-women-pregnant/
4Lynley, Matthew. “The Glow App Now Tracks Male Fertility.” TechCrunch. April 23, 2015. http://techcrunch.com/2015/04/23/the-glow-app-now-tracks-male-fertility/
6Anxiety and Depression Association of America. “Facts & Statistics.” N.D. http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
7CBS News. “Study Shows 70 Percent of Americans Take Prescription Drugs.” June 20, 2013. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/study-shows-70-percent-of-americans-take-prescription-drugs/