8 Mobile Apps to Help Manage Your Health [Slide Show]
These accoutrements to a smart phone can help users plan and track workouts, monitor important health indicators such as glucose and blood pressure, and locate nearby physicians and clinical trials
Credits: Courtesy of Taconic System, LLC
BPMonitor: BPMonitor, developed by Taconic System, LLC, keeps track of important health stats like blood pressure, weight and heart rate.
Release date: March 2011
How it works: The app enables you to track your vital health signs and those of your family members because it supports tracking for multiple people. For example, you can enter your systolic and diastolic blood pressure values, and the app plots how they change over time. All the stats appear in graphical, colored charts for easier interpretation. BPMonitor offers the choice of U.S. and metric units.
Additional features: BPMonitor generates reports that can be e-mailed to doctors for review, and it offers a weekly statistics table, where maximum/minimum/average values are calculated and listed for three consecutive weeks.
Upcoming version: The latest release came out in October, with the next one planned for the end of the year.
Platforms supported: iPhone, iPad. An Android version is being developed. Courtesy of Taconic System, LLC
Gazelle GPS Cardiovascular Workout Tracker: Gazelle is an app that uses the iPhone's GPS to track progress during workouts and might be of particular use when a patient undergoes physical therapy, says Jon Ruiz, founder of Subtractive Art, Gazelle's creator.
Release date: December 2010
How it works: When working out, your phone is usually on an armband or tucked away in a pocket, making it difficult to read and interact with the screen. Gazelle, however, is easy to navigate because it uses the entire screen as the only button to start, stop, pause or read your stats, which are displayed in large high-contrast letters. The app announces stats out loud at set distances or times—a feature that can be customized. Gazelle also has an "estimation" feature that kicks in when there is no GPS signal or the user is stationary. In this situation, it still tracks time and distance, but the user must tell the app what pace to use. Location information can be exported to services such as MapMyRun.com and plotted on a map.
Additional features: You can export all the data from workouts into a spreadsheet or a GPX (a common format for GPS devices) file, and e-mail it to a doctor or a physical therapist.
Upcoming version: Planned for next fall.
Platforms supported: iPhone, iPad. No plans for other platforms yet. Courtesy of Subtractive Art
C25K (Couch to 5K): At least two different developers offer "C25K" apps that create workout plans based on Josh Clark's running regimen for beginners, gradually helping them transition from couch potato to competitor.
Bluefin Software, LLC, based in South Bend, Ind., ( left) makes a number of running apps that guide you from 5K all the way to a marathon, depending on your level of ambition.
Developer Guy Hoffman likewise offers a series of C25K apps for Android ( right).
Price: $2.99 (Bluefin), $1.99 (Guy Hoffman "Pro" version; there is also a free version)
Release date: January 2009 (Bluefin), February 2010 (Hoffman)
How it works: The workouts created by C25K consist of timed running and walking intervals. The app tells you when to switch from running to walking according to the workout plan, thus, allowing you to focus on running instead of continually looking at your watch. You can also keep a workout journal, automatically track distance and pace when running outdoors via GPS, and see your workout route overlaid on a map. Another feature of C25K is the ability to listen to your music playlists as you run.
Additional features: In Bluefin's next major release, you will be able to get a report of your workout history that can be printed and shared with a doctor. Hoffman's next release for Android will include, among other things, GPS tracking and distance intervals.
Upcoming version: Bluefin's is due before the end of the year. Hoffman plans to release his next version in early December.
Platforms supported: iPhone, iPad, Android (Hoffman's app is Android only). Coming to Amazon Kindle soon (Bluefin). Courtesy of Bluefin Software, LLC, and Guy Hoffman
Fooducate: Fooducate helps consumers get the more complete nutritional data on grocery items, not just the marketing claims on the package.
Release date: January 2011
How it works: The app lets you scan a product at a store and find out its nutritional value, going beyond the government-mandated nutrition panel found on 200,000 food products. Fooducate's goal is to simplify government-mandated data into useful and relevant information that can help a consumer make a decision, says Hemi Weingarten, founder and CEO of Fooducate, Ltd. It flags, for instance, excessive sugar, hidden transfats, additives and preservatives and food colorings.
Additional features: Fooducate automatically saves a history of all your product scans, which you can then share with a dietitian.
Upcoming version: New releases every six to eight weeks.
Platforms supported: iPhone, iPad, Android. Courtesy of Fooducate, Ltd Advertisement
Vision Test: Vision Test, developed by 3 Sided Cube, allows you to self-administer several eye tests that you can perform on your smart phone to determine if a trip to the optician is needed.
Release date: July 2010
How it works: Users have a few options to evaluate their vision, including a visual acuity test, astigmatism test, red/green duochrome test, color test and far-field vision test—which can be selected from a simple menu when the app is launched. If the test results determine that a user might have an eyesight problem, the app will suggest a nearby optician using Google Maps. Vision Test has fun elements as well, such as an eye quiz, along with eye advice and facts. It could use additional tests, as some users suggest, but overall, it has plenty of features for a free app.
Additional features: "We are planning to update the app to add more tests and more diagnostic information," says 3 Sided Cube's managing director Duncan Cook. He warns, however, that the app is meant to be used as a reference, not to replace a full vision test.
Upcoming version: No specific release date yet.
Platforms supported: iPhone, iPad, Android. BlackBerry and Windows Mobile versions are in the works. Courtesy of 3 Sided Cube
Glucose Buddy: Glucose Buddy is a widely used diabetes management application that works on the iPhone operating system. It acts as a utility for diabetics to store a range of health statistics.
Release date: Late 2008
How it works: Using Glucose Buddy, people with diabetes can manually enter their glucose numbers, carbohydrate consumption, insulin dosages and activities. Once the data has been entered, users are able to see trends and adjust their diets, meds and even activity, to better control their blood sugar.
Additional features: Users can e-mail logs to their doctors/caregivers directly from the app. The data also can be viewed for free online at Glucosebuddy.com, which synchs with the iPhone logs.
Upcoming version: The next release is scheduled for 2012.
Platforms supported: iPhone, iPad. An Android version is planned in the next few months. Couretsy of SkyHealth, LLC
Cancer Trials: Cancel Trials, developed by MedTrust Online, LLC, in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline, locates clinical trials that are recruiting patients nearby.
Release date: June 2010
How it works: To get started, you must select a category to narrow down your search, such as bladder cancer, breast cancer or leukemia. The app then uses the phone's location-based services to determine relevant clinical trials within about 240 kilometers. Each clinical trial record contains information like recruitment status, number of patients to be enrolled, patient-inclusion criteria, contact information for trial managers and more. The searches can be bookmarked and saved, or shared with others.
Additional features: In future releases, MedTrust wants to add a scheduling system and automatic alerts that tell patients or a clinic/physician if the patient is eligible for a trial. "We would love to continue helping patients understand the value of treatments, and expand to other chronic areas and even genomics," says Chris Yoo, MedTrust Online's president and CEO.
Upcoming version: No specific release date yet.
Platforms supported: iPhone, iPad, Android. Courtesy of MedTrust Online, LLC
iTriage: iTriage was created by emergency physicians to answer the two most common medical questions: "What could be wrong?" and "Where should I go for treatment?"
Release date: March 2009
How it works: iTriage helps identify symptoms, then identifies possible treatments for specific conditions and, finally, suggests the most appropriate provider based on the user's location. To find a symptom, you can interact with a rotatable sketch of a male or a female, click on a body part, and choose from a drop-down menu of common and less common symptoms. The app also provides ER wait times and preregistration for select hospitals and urgent care facilities around the country.
Additional features: The current version of iTriage integrates with personal health records (PHR). "Since Google Health is shutting down, we're adding support for Microsoft HealthVault and other PHRs," says Patrick Leonard, vice president of technology at iTriage, LLC. "These PHRs enable users to manage their own medical records, giving [them] the capability to store and share those records with a doctor anywhere in the country."
Upcoming version: A new soon-to-be-released version will allow you to make appointments with doctors on a smart phone.
Platforms supported: iPhone, iPad, Android. Courtesy of iTriage, LLC Advertisement Advertisement