Is there an app for that?

February 10, 2014
From the January/February 2014 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
When the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its final guidance on mobile apps last fall, much of the mobile health industry sighed with relief. Although the agency made it clear that it will scrutinize apps that directly impact patient safety, it also reassured the industry that it would not stifle innovation. “In FDA’s final guidance, patient safety is king and innovation is queen,” says David Collins, Senior Director of mHIMMS, the mobile community of HIMSS.

The market is growing rapidly, and hospital executives are talking about how to fit mobile health into their budgets in an era of coordinated care. (For health care stakeholders looking for a practical guide, mHIMMS recently released a comprehensive mobile health apps roadmap.)

But while it may take some time for hospitals to evaluate and add mobile health companies to its vendor lists, clinicians can instantly take advantage of the innovations via smartphones and tablets. Below is a list (in no particular order) of some of the best health care apps of 2013 that can be downloaded in a snap.

Medical calculator
Calculate by QxMD
Several free medical calculator apps are available in the App Store, but Calculate by QxMD is most popular because of its sleek interface and quick access to several support tools. The app is used by clinicians in a variety of disciplines, including internal medicine, hematology, emergency medicine, oncology, and general surgery, to support clinical decision-making.

Calculate by QxMD provides access to 150 different calculators via a user-friendly interface. The app gets high praise from iMedicalApps, a leading online resource on mobile medical technology edited by clinicians.

Figure 1
Within two weeks of its launch in 2013, Figure 1 was the most downloaded free health care app in the country. Just two months later, it had tens of thousands of users. Often referred to as the Instagram for doctors, the app enables clinicians to share photos of medical conditions with colleagues all over the world. The app’s maker describes Figure 1 as a “crowd-sourced medical image library for health care professionals.”

Users can upload, view, comment on, and “like” images posted using the app, all while ensuring patient privacy. A number of safeguards are built into Figure 1, including automatic face-blocking on images and embedded privacy release forms.

To preserve the integrity of the app, Figure 1 maintains a verification process for licensed physicians and is working on adding such processes for other health care professionals.

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