August 2018 AirVisual

Title: AirVisualLogo

What it is: A mobile app that shows up to date air quality data around the world

What devices: Apple and Android Devices

Cost: Free

Who should use it: Patients with chronic respiratory or cardiac conditions, anyone wanting to know more about air quality, Physicians and Advanced Practitioners

Why use it: There is significant medical evidence that poor air quality can worsen and exacerbate chronic medical conditions. This leads to increased healthcare utilization and higher costs when patients are exposed to periods of poor air quality. One way of preventing these health issues is to avoid exposure to such poor quality air. No matter where you are, you can use AirVisual to provide current air quality levels.

Not the typical Connected Health App discussed on this site, AirVisual can be quite important to making good health decisions in the dog days of summer. It has been quite hot here in the Southwest and those hot days are often associated with poor air quality. In places like northern California right now, the wildfires contribute greatly to poor air quality.  AirVisual can empower anyone to avoid poor quality, unhealthy air.

AirVisual uses the Air Quality Index (AQI) to rate the overall level of concern in AQI Valuesregards to health. The lower the AQI value, the the better the air quality. The higher the AQI value, the worse the air quality is and subsequently the higher potential impact on a persons health. AirVisual will also show changes in AQI value throughout the day. People who may be more sensitive to the health affects of poor air quality can limit their exposure by seeing when the AQI is high and staying indoors. Then when the AQI value is lower and in a less detrimental range people can be more comfortable venturing out.

As discussed in prior posts, each Connected Health App should be viewed through the lenses of being Accessible, Affordable, Reliable and Relational.

Accessible: The Accessibility of AirVisual is high as it is a mobile app that can be accessed anywhere at any time.  The only limitation is the need to be able to access a suitable WIFI or cellular connection.

Affordable: The app is free to use, requiring only that the user has a suitable smartphone or tablet.

Reliable: AirVisual uses data gathered from satellite data, weather data, government air quality data as well volunteers who monitor air quality at a local level.

Relational: Increases opportunities to focus on ones relationship with the environment around where one lives, works and travels.

AirVisual Screen schot
This is an example of the information provided in the AirVisual App. It shows the current AQI level and then predicts the levels as the day goes on.
Air Visual Map
Here is an example of a searchable map within the AirVisual app. This area corresponds with the currently active Carr Fire in Northern California.


January 2018 7 Cups app

7 Cups

7 cups logo

What it is:  App designed to provide on-demand emotional support
What devices: Apple IOS devices and Android Devices
Cost: Free to download and use but does have costs associated with certain features
Who should use it: Anyone looking to improve their mental health 
Why use it: There are times when everyone struggles to maintain a positive outlook,
doptionseal with negative stress or are just looking to vent about recent events in their lives.  For those who wish to reach out and receive support they may not have access through traditional medical models.  They may feel they need more immediate help, avoid feeling like a burden to family and friends or just wish to stay anonymous.  The digital health app 7 Cups can provide necessary help.
7 Cups has several ways to receive mental health support.  7 Cups uses volunteers who are trained to provide emotional support via text.  This is completely anonymous.  The app asks several questions to guide what kind of support someone might need and connects them with a live volunteer.  In testing this out, the wait time to be connected to a volunteer was between 2-5 minutes.  The app has the appearance of any chat service and in intuitive to use.  
Within the app are many options for guided imagery  and mindfulness exercises.  These can be complete on-demand any time.  The app also serves as a way to participate in a community.  There are message boards from groups within the 7 Cups app, usually themed.  For example there is an Addiction Support Community and an Eating Disorder group.  
Many counselors and therapists can be contacted through the app to provide more intense treatment options.  
Chat Options

November 2017 Sworkit App


What it is: Sworkit is a fitness app that provides stretching, cardio and yoga workouts on demandsworkit-update.png

What devices: Iphone, Ipads and Android devices

Cost: Free or for a fee a premium version that is ad-free and has access to a broader range of exercise plans

Who should use it: Patients, caretakers and physicians, pretty much anyone and everyone

Why use it:  Sworkit limits excuses.  This the best most portable exercise program around.  Every exercise program in the Sworkit app requires no equipment.  All you need for good work out is your phone and a little space.  If you have 5 minutes at the office, you can use Sworkit.  If you have 15 minutes in your hotel room while traveling, you can use Sworkit.  Sworkit eliminates the barriers you have to the cardiovascular exercise we need for optimal health.

When you download the Sworkit app, you have access to a guided set of exercises.  Sworkit will take you through set of exercises based on your preferences for yoga, strength training, cardio or stretching.  The programs can last as long as 60 minutes or can be done in as little as 5 minutes.  Each exercise movement can be seen on your device screen as a video which shows you exactly what to do.  There is a voice overlay prompt and a timer to tell you when to move on to the next movement.  The benefit of being able to tap an app and then have a guided exercise program is unparalleled.

The Premium features are included for $7.99 monthly fee or $59.99 for the year and include access to several extra exercise routines and the ability to use guided workout plans or customize workouts the way you want.  The Premium version is ad-free but the ads in the Free version are not that distracting at all.

Download Sworkit today and you can have a digital personal trainer lead you in a great exercise routine anytime and anywhere you and your phone can go.

IMG_9197 IMG_9199

October 2017 Heads Up Concussion and Helmet Safety App

October 2017 Heads Up Concussion and Helmet Safety App

Heads Up Front PageWhat it is: A mobile app that provides information on preventing, identifying and responding to head injuries and concussions.
What devices: iPhones, iPads, Android devices
Cost: Free 
Who should use it: Parents, coaches, healthcare providers, anyone involved in youth sports
Why use it:   The risk of head injuries during sports has become a regular topic of conversation.  Potential damage to a player’s brain, especially the those younger participants in contact sports is on the mind of many athletes, parents and coaches.  The Heads Up app from the Centers for Disease Control provides well-researched and actionable information regarding head injuries and concussion as well as plans for prevention.
       The most important aspect of prevention of head injuries and concussions is appropriate safety equipment. The Heads Up app offers the Helmet Fit 360.  This interactive component of the app allows users to see all facets of appropriate safe fitting of a sports helmet.  The options cover everything from baseball and softball helmets to helmets for skateboarding and equestrian sports.  It will show you how to measure a child’s head to find the right fit for each helmet, visualize how it might it should fit snugly on a head and clearly show how a child’s eyes should be in relation to the helmet for adequate vision.  Every figure for each helmet can turn 360 degrees by swiping across the touchscreen on your device.Heads Up Eye fit
Heads Up Snug


       The other component of the Head Up app is a very in depth look at the information all parents, coaches and even healthcare providers need to know about head injuries and concussions.  There is information on basic signs to look out for, both from an adult and Heads up What is a concussionchild participants point of view.  There are danger signs to review to see if emergency personnel need to be activated.  There are great guidelines to follow to help those children who have had a concussion to help them return to school, succeed in school and eventually return to the plain sports.  There are options to be linked directly to the CDC’s website for further information.

       Overall this app is a must have for everyone involved in youth sports to be aware of the risks of head injuries, work on prevention and if needed, helped an injured athlete recover successfully.

September 2017 Simple Contacts

Title: Simple ContactsFront page

What it is: Mobile eye exam and contact purchasing app

What devices: iPhone and any internet connected computer

Cost: Free to download app, (contacts can be purchased through the app)

Who should use it: Anyone at least 18 years old who wears contacts, no recent changes in vision and no significant eye disorders

Why use it: For everyone out there that has tried to wear their contacts longer than recommended to stretch out their remaining supply of contacts, this app is for you. Simple Contacts is a mobile app that puts you in control of obtaining an eye exam and purchasing contacts on your schedule.

eye exam

Simple Contacts turns your iPhone or computer into a personalized eye exam. Through the app, videos of your eyes are captured while looking up, down and to the side. Then the app directs you to set your phone 10 feet away from you, even giving you guidance on how far away you are. Using voice commands, the Simple Contacts app directs you to cover one eye and read letters on your phone, just like at a regular in person eye exam

The feedback on my exam was much faster than I expected. Honestly, I cheated the exam a little, not completely covering my eyes. Within a couple minutes of completing the exam I received a text from Simple Contacts stating that I needed to redo my eye exam. Specifically, the Simple Contacts system had identified my exam because “it didn’t detect that your eyes were covered properly.” I couldn’t fool the app and re-took the eye exam, this time completely covering my eyes as instructed.

peaking text

Simple Contacts caught me cheating on the eye exam and asked me to repeat the test.

Once your exam is complete, the videos are then sent securely to an Ophthalmologist for review. The next morning I received an email from the physician who reviewed my exam. She had recommended that with my significant myopia, that I really need a true retinal evaluation every year.

I was able to choose the exact style of daily contacts I already use and in 4 days, 6 months of contacts arrived in my mailbox. I never stepped foot in a healthcare institution.

check out

To use Simple Contacts, you really need to have a set of contacts you feel are comfortable to just reorder. I would not recommend trying a different brand through this app.

This app does not replace a complete eye exam performed in person. For many people with certain medical conditions, they should always seek routine eye care. If you have glaucoma, diabetes, cataracts or any type of medical condition with ocular manifestations Simple Contacts is not something I would advise.

Overall, Simple contacts is easy to use and the convenience of the app is spectacular. You will never run out of contacts again.

July 2017 5 Minute Yoga

Title: 5 minute Yoga
 Front page
What it is: A mobile app that provides guided yoga poses
What devices: Android and Apple devices
Cost: Free (with in-app purchases)
Who should use it: Anyone looking to add yoga to their daily routine
Why use it: Performing Yoga on a regular basis has several benefits to ones physical and mental health.  Yoga can improve fitness, flexibility and strength while also relieving stress and improving mood.
       As a physician I often recommend that my patients take a break at work, however brief.  5 Minute Yoga is the perfect app for respite at
 work.  The is designed to be provide guided instructions, both with a cartoon like


figure that demonstrates the pose and a written description of the pose.
       There are 5 poses to perform each session.  The app recommends using it once daily but could be used multiple times throughout the day.  It is very easy to use anywhere you feel comfortable doing yoga.
       For a small fee, you can have access to more features.  The upgraded features include a broader range of yoga poses, a remainder feature and the ability to add your own music to personalize your workout.
       Overall, 5 Minute Yoga is an easy to use, free app to provide a quick and relaxing workout during a busy day.

May 2017 CardioVisual

Title: CardioVisualfront page
What it is: A mobile app that provides educational videos on cardiovascular topics
What devices: Apple and Android devices
Cost: Free
Who should use it: Physicians, especially Cardiologists, as well as patients
Why use it: One of the most important aspects of a physicians job is to educate.  Physicians must be able to communicate important concepts about disease process and medical procedures to their patients.  The demands placed on every physicians time sometimes makes it difficult to give a patient all the information they would like to.
       For physicians dealing with cardiovascular issues, CardioVisual can provide some much needed help.  CardioVisual is a mobile app that has on demand education videos on many health topics.  The app mostly focuses on the field of cardiology but also has some general health topics like guides to exercise and nutrition.first page
       The topics are broken down into categories: general Cardiac, Electrophysiology,
Structural issues and Peripheral Vascular problems.  Each category includes videos on specific conditions, treatment options and specific devices.
       This type of app could be used in a clinic setting to foster discussion on a new diagnosis or it would also be beneficial in providing more background information in a hospital setting for a patient who needs a cardiac procedure.  One great feature of the app is the ability to draw and write on several anatomic drawings.  Clinicians can explain and inform on the diagram and then print it for the patient – or even email or text it.
       At the CardioVisual website, you can order free cards with a list of topics offered by the app (  This is a business card sized instruction for patients on which videos their doctor would like them to review or act as a reminder of the videos they had already reviewed with their doctor.
       The app is likely to provide good background for Primary Care Physicians as well.  Any PCP that wanted to be able to know more about specific cardiac procedures can quickly and easily review one of the videos on CardioVisual to obtain a nice overview.  For patients who may need try to explain a new diagnosis or an upcoming procedure to a family member, CardioVisual would be a great resource as well.

       Overall, CardioVisual is a great mobile resource for cardiovascular disease information.

Health App of the Month Will Be Back Next Month

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”

–William Penn

April is almost over and I still have not completed my review of the latest health app I have been using.  The Health App of the Month will be back and better than ever in May. Hopefully, with time, I will have more posts this summer on many Digital Health topics.  As always, if you have any comments, suggestions or ideas for the site, please let me know.

March 2017 Aspirin Guide App

Title: Aspirin Guide App
What it is: A mobile evidence based medical app for determining the need for aspirin therapy in heart diseaseHeart
What devices: Apple and Android devices
Cost: Free
Who should use it: mostly physicians but also patients interested in knowing more about preventing heart disease
Why use it:  The decision to use low-dose aspirin for the primary prevention of heart disease can sometimes be a difficult decision.  Physicians need to weight the benefit of aspirin against the risks of gastrointestinal problems.  However beneficial aspirin can be, daily intake of an aspirin can lead to abdominal pain, gastritis and gastrointestinal bleeding.
From a group of physicians at Harvard comes the Aspirin Guide app.  This app takes the most relevant evidence based guidelines to help in the decision making process.  Using ASCVD risk score and guidelines from the US Preventive Task Force, the app walks you through a series of questions about a patients medical history.  These include health factors such as smoking status, systolic blood pressure and cholesterol level.
The app then creates a recommendation based on those health factors.  What is really interesting about the apps recommendation it breaks down why it has that recommendation.  It provides the data on Number Needed to Treat (NNT) and Number Needed to Harm (NNH).   Physicians can really see where the risks are and how they compare to each other.  Its also a good way to discuss the risks and benefits with your patient.  There are also links to the medical journal articles for physicians to review as well.
I would caution any patient using this app, not to start or stop low dose aspirin therapy just using the app alone.  Use the information to start a discussion with your personal physician.  You can even email the results with NNT and NNH to your physician but do not adjust your own aspirin regimen without consulting a physician.

February 2017 CDC Vaccine Schedules

cdc-opening-screenTitle: CDC Vaccine Schedules
What it is: A mobile app for all the CDC vaccine guidelines
What devices: Android and Apple devices
Cost: Free
Who should use it: Any healthcare provider or patient who wants to know more about CDC guidelines for vaccination
Why use it:  Vaccines are an effective and easy way to prevent disease and maintain healthy populations.  For many clinicians the source they use the most for vaccine schedules and information is the CDC website.  This CDC Vaccine Schedules app puts all the important information from the CDC website into a convenient mobile app.
    The information is broken down like most of the distributed vaccine information from the CDC.  The age categories include Birth to 5 years, Adolescents and Adults.  While looking at the graphics on a phone or tablet, turning your device horizontally allows for a broader appearance to the timetable.cdc-front-page
    There is also information on catch-up schedules for children, unique guidelines for pregnancy, immunocompromised patients and healthcare providers.  These are in separate listings on the front page of the app but there is also a lot of information available by tapping “note” from the vaccine schedule it self.
    Overall, this is a very easy to use reference from the CDC for all vaccination guidelines in the palm of your hand.