When we think of smartphone apps, we tend to think of popular games, such as the one featuring the misadventures of a certain animated plumber, or the one that allows you to mine blocks and build shapes while exploring unfamiliar worlds. Smartphone apps are not all fun and games, however. An increasing number of folks are turning to mobile apps to help them get in shape, learn more about specific symptoms and otherwise manage or improve their health.
The Number of Healthcare and Fitness Apps is Rapidly Growing
As Murray Aitken, Director of the IMS Institute noted in a video report, a key finding of their 2015 Assessment of Consumer Healthcare App Functionality is that the number of healthcare-related mobile apps has soared in recent years. At the time of the study, there were over 40,000 health related apps in the Apple iTunes store alone. Since the study was conducted, that number has increased several times.
How Mobile Apps Can Improve Health
There are a number of ways that apps can be used to help individuals take better care of themselves and their loved ones. Patient education is one of the many benefits provided by mobile apps. These programs help people learn more about their chronic conditions. They can also discover how taking certain steps will help them to manage their symptoms better.
Even otherwise fit individuals can benefit from health apps whose main feature is to provide education and information. A number of low cost and free programs enable users to search for details about common conditions. Users can check symptoms to see if they need medical care. For example, someone with red, itchy eyes might want to learn about the signs of pink eye to determine if they need to seek medical treatment from a health care
Benefits of Tracking Health with Mobile Apps
In addition to checking symptoms and learning about specific health conditions, wireless wearable technology like Fitbit and other peripherals makes it easy for folks to keep track of their physical activities. These apps can track other items such as the calories that they consume and burn, which can make it easier to lose weight and get in shape.
Other healthcare related apps make it easy for users to learn new activities that can help them stay in shape. For example, there are a number of apps that teach users how to perform popular yoga poses, others provide relaxing music, and instruction in guided meditations.
Other apps might not seem to be healthcare related but can still help users to improve their health, such as the countless recipe-related apps that offer low-calorie, low-carb, or low-fat options for meals.
Using Mobile Apps to Monitor Health Conditions Reduce the Expense of Healthcare Related Travel
A growing number of healthcare apps are making it easier for doctors to remotely monitor the status of their patients. This can help patients with chronic conditions by saving them the trouble and expense of having to come into the doctor’s office for a routine check of their condition.
This advance is especially beneficial to patients that live in far away, rural locations that lack easy access to healthcare providers. It also makes it easier, and safer, for the elderly and patients with mobility issues to receive prompt medical advice.
We tend to assume that older folks are hesitant to try new things, especially when it is something related to computers, the internet or similar technology. Older folks like Grandma might not use Facebook, but health updates can make her more independent by allowing her to receive medical attention from the comfort of her own home.
In addition to teleconferencing with a doctor via wireless video, there are peripherals that are available that can wireless record and transmit data to a doctor, such as blood pressure and heart rate. There are even stethoscopes that use the Internet of Things (IoT) technology to record the sounds made by a person’s heart, lungs and digestive tract. This data is then wirelessly transmitted to a healthcare professional who listens to the sounds to help them determine the status of their patient’s condition and make adjustments in their treatment plan if necessary.
As interest in healthcare apps continues to grow, and technology continues to advance, it’s likely that users will eventually be able to skip a trip to the doctor’s office altogether except for the rarest and most serious conditions.