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Health Technology: Apps & Activism Webinar Follow Up

 

On Monday night I hosted an awesome webinar conversation between wise Health Activist Kelly Johnston and Rock Health members Halle Tecco and Ryan Panchadsaram. As expected, I learned a bunch of new things about apps, how physicians really feel about technology (hint: they love it), what patients can do to integrate apps into healthy lifestyle choices and also improve their overall self-care and health care through technology. Lots of cool app-suggestions were given as well. I can’t wait to see how the mobile health conversation continues to evolve and the app stores continue to get virtually stocked with apps that will quite literally change people’s lives.

My take-aways and a list of the apps recommended by our webinar panelists are all after the jump.

Jump to read on!

 

Here are some of my take-aways from our webinar event:

–          What makes a great app? Kelly says: “When I look for an app I want it to be: free or affordable, will make my life easier, easy-to-use, if it’s difficult it’s not a good app. Useful in my daily life and help me stay healthy.” Halle says: “The user experience has to be there in order for users to come back and continue to use the application. A lot of times people will download an app, use it once, and they forget about it. That’s not a way to build a sustainable product. [When creating apps] start from a place where you respect the user, take the users’ feedback into account.

–          So many kinds of apps in the health category! Health calculators, diet apps, tracking apps for weight-loss, iRx – a handy drug reference, iFirstAid – an app that will walk you through an emergency, My Life Record – you can keep your medical record for you and your family with you at all times.

–          When creating apps – some teams approach it “problem first” – using recent research on how to solve problems and create an app based on that information. Other teams use “design first” they look at existing trends in people’s behaviors (like keeping a diary, for example) and make that practice digital.

–          Health Activists can help developers and app-builders by giving feedback! This is something Health Activists are especially wonderful at. So, when you can, do report errors, share ideas, offer support to application creators.

–          We know that Health Activists love staying up-to-date with the latest technology and information – but doctors do too! Halle shared the inside scoop: Physicians and doctors are eager to adopt new technology and find ways to make their job easier and better. They are actually early-adopters and want to find ways:  do their jobs better, reduce inefficiencies and errors, cut costs, and improve patient outcomes. Doctors are actually excited to try new technology that will help in these ways and more. And, well hey, that’s pretty awesome news.

–          Patients and doctors can work together with apps! We’re e-patients – a huge part of being empowered means we want to learn and discuss treatments, diagnoses, and be on an even-playing field with our healthcare teams. And apps give us the tools to take charge of our health effectively and efficiently – tracking flares, symptoms, etc. By sending this information to doctors, they will know if the medication or treatment they prescriped is working, if you are adhering to the advice they gave you, and how to better help you. Apps are a great way to keep track of what you’re doing in a self-care sense and share actual data and proof.  Especially important for chronic conditions and chronic pain – tracking can help diagnoses and figure out causation for certain symptoms. And, additionally – who doesn’t like that readable proof that you’re doing the best you can?

–          For Health Activists who have an idea for an app – seek out developers or potential tech partnerships. Mobile Roadie – a great drag and drop program to building and customizing an app. Or find someone who can act as a co-founder who is passionate about your idea too. Reach out – take your idea, do your research, and offer your ideas where you can!

–          For others who want a way into the process – many people are out there creating apps now. Connect with these organizations and creators and offer your insight and input where you can. Finding someone who is working on an app that correlates to your ideas or your health condition of focus and add your user-experience on that front.

–          iPads can actually help doctor interaction with patients in the office. They can look at you when they enter in your data.

–          If you feel uncomfortable with a doctor utilizing technology during your brief time together – be open and honest and ask them to put it down for a minute or ask “can we talk face-to-face?”

–          Lots of research shows that documentation on paper is more prone to errors – giving doctors the correct tools could really help reduce errors.

–          The Freemium model helps make apps affordable – you start with a free app, try it and then if you like it – you can pay and “unlock” more features.

–          A smartphone or tablet aren’t the only ways for you to use apps. Try Google Chrome apps if you want to use apps on your computer instead of your phone. Check online websites that have computer and internet apps that you try from where you spend your time online.

–          There are texting and email services that reach out to users through other mediums.

–          The FDA isn’t regulating apps right now – there is no certification board saying “this app is effective” there are no clinical trials for apps yet – so many doctors may avoid recommending apps in case something goes wrong, there are liability concerns. But once there is a certification board for apps – more doctors will be recommending apps and tools.

–          Patients may be able to find tools before their doctor could recommend it. We are proactive and super-connected! Remember that.

–          Health Activists – please write about apps! You’ll be doing a huge service for your communities and fellow Health Activists, Keep in mind that a patient-to-patient app conversation is going to lead us all into the future. Health Activists can really take advantage of that right now before the FDA comes into play. If there’s an app that improves your self-care or that you just really love – tell people about it and help others try new things. If it helps you, chances are it will help others.

And here are a list of apps that were recommended by our presenters:

 

  • The Arthritis Foundation app – Track + React – Day-by-day wellness tool. Utilizes a weather locator and can match your symptoms to changes in the weather, keeps track of your medications, and offers tips for stretching. Also sends your results to your doctor.
  • Skimble – track your work-outs, after you exercise you track yourself.
  • Google apps – Spreadsheets, pull those up to track what you’re using.
  • Crunchfu, Pushupfu, FitFu – Turns your phone into a sergeant that counts your crunches and push-ups.
  • Words With Friends – interactive Scrabble on-the-go. If you’re not already addicted – beware, it’s awesome.
  • Yogi Says – Gives you yoga instructions and inspirational quotes.
  • iPosture Companion – an app that helps you improve your posture.
  • iSleep – set music that is soft and relaxing for sleep.
  • White noise apps.
  • Breath – goes through breathing exercises with you.

It was an awesome webinar – with an amazing Q&A sessions with more thoughts than I could possibly fit into one recap post. I’m so glad to have had the chance to speak to these incredible app-savvy folks and learn along with you. Personally, I can’t wait to add onto my phone and start trying some of the awesome app opinions on the market.

Of course – I hope you will connect with our presenters! Follow Kelly on Twitter @Hope4AS and read more about her wonderful work for the AS community on her blog Hurting But Hopeful and her ASAP Project also on Facebook. Kelly is such an awesome enthusiastic Health Activists and I really can’t wait to hear more about the app she is helping to create. It’s going to really impact the AS community in an amazing way and serve as a great model for other conditions’ apps! And a special thanks to Rock Health for sharing the business-side of apps and giving us some of the background into the great work they are doing with start-ups! Follow them at @Rock_Health and check out their site for more about their work.

We are working on add the recorded webinar to our archive! Once it’s live on our site we will be emailing it out to all of you who RSVPed and sharing a link here on the blog as well 🙂

Until then – let’s talk apps! I’d love to hear what you think. What are your favorite health apps? Have you written about them or started a conversation about apps in healthcare? Share it with us! This is an important discussion and I can’t wait to learn more from other Health Activists.

 

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