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.

January 2017 LactMed app

Title: LactMed
What it is: A mobile database of information regarding the safety of medications and supplements during breast feeding
What devices: Apple and Android Devices
Cost: Free
Who should use it: Physicians, nursing mothers
Why use it:  There are many things about bringing home a new baby that can cause a lot of anxiety.  There are new feeding and sleep schedules, baby proofing your house and maybe even other siblings who needs to get used to the new addition to your family.  Another source of anxiety can be trying to know whctzhat medications are safe for a nursing mother.  That is where the mobile app LactMed can come in handy.
       LactMed is a mobile searchable database that has thousands of medications created by National Library of Medicine, a part of the National Institutes of Health.  For each medicine, LactMed provides information on whether or not the medicine can be found in breast milk, whether it can have an effect on nursing babies and other options for that class of medication. It also provides information on whether or not the medication could effect lactation as well.
       What’s is great about this app is that not only are there prescription medications but over-the-counter medications and supplements.  All this clinical information is updated monthly.
       This app is perfect for the primary care physician in clinic taking care of their patients who are nursing or for the doctor providing Urgent Care who has a nursing mother as a brand new and ill patient.  If you are not taking care of nursing mothers on a regular basis, it may be hard to stay familiar with medications that are safe for breastfeeding.  This mobile app will be a great, quick reference.
       For patients, specifically nursing mothers, this can be a great app to review the medications you are already taking or any new medications that are started while nursing.  It can be a good way to start a conversation with your physician about your medications.  Of course, always speak with your personal Obstetrician or Primary Doctor before making any changes to your medication regimen.

December 2016 WebMD Mobile App

Title: WebMD Mobile App

What it is: A mobile medical reference app


Front Page of the WebMD Mobile App

What devices: Apple and Android products

Cost: free

Who should use it: Anyone who wants broad reliable medical information at their

Why use it: There are numerous medical websites on the internet and if you are looking for medical information it can be hard to know where to start.  What is good information and what sources can be trusted?  The first place to start can be the WebMD mobile app.

The mobile app has many different features that make is a very useful first step to researching medical questions.

1 Symptom Checker – to guide you towards potential medical diagnosis based on symptoms you are experiencing

2 Reference of medical conditions – broad list of medical conditions with useful information for each condition, all presented in a format that is easy to understand and geared towards patient usewebmd-med

3 Drug reference for pharmaceutical information. – listing pertinent information about what it treats, what to look out for, what a specific medication interacts with other and what to do if you miss a dose

4 First Aid – Basic How-to for caring for injuries and medical conditions on your own and instructions for when to seek carewebmd-first-aid

5 Provider database – You can even search your area, or any area you might be traveling in, to look for physicians and hospitals.

The WebMD mobile app is a nice way to have reliable medical information at your fingertips.  The app is definitely geared for lay-person use.  This app not rigorous enough for physician use.  The Medscape mobile app may be better suited for that.

While the WebMD mobile app may not meet the needs of physicians in daily practice, it is a great useful reference for anyone looking to obtain quality medical information from a reputable source.

November 2016 ASCVD Risk Estimator

ASCVD Risk Estimator
What it is: A mobile app that uses an algorithm to determine risk of cardiac disease
What devices: IOS and Androidfront-page-app
Cost: Free
Who should use it: Physicians who want more guidance on cardiovascular risks and treatment guidelines for hyperlipidemia.  Also patients who want to be more proactive win their own healthcare, who want more information on their own heart risks and what they can do about it.
Why use it:  The goals physicians set for cholesterol levels change based on a specific set of risk factors.  Essentially this makes cholesterol levels a moving target at times.  Not every patient will have the same goal.
       The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association has developed a mobile app to help physicians and patients make the most informed decision about cholesterol treatment.  The app is called the ASCVD Risk Estimator.  ASCVD stands for Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease.  The uses published medical guidelines to set a 10 year and lifetime risk of heart attack, stroke or death from a cardiac cause.
     To use the app, one needs information regarding age, gender, race, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, diabetes status, smoking status and use of blood empty-front-pagepressure lowering medications.  By inputting this information, one can see the 10 year and lifetime risk of heart disease.
      The app also uses the current published guidelines on treatment.  Based on the risk that is calculated it will review current treatment options.  For instance if the risk for a patient is calculated to be 14%, then the app can easily show you that the next step is high intensity statin and lifestyle modifications.statin-therapy
       There are two educational sections of the app, one geared for physicians and one geared towards patients.  The Physician section is more technical and comes with a strength of recommendation rating that physicians will be familiar with.  The Patient section is much more approachable.  Conveniently there is a section that provides definitions to common medical terms that could be quite helpful for patients.

September 2016 Caffiend


What it is: A medical app that helps you track your caffeine and water intake
What devices: iPhones and Apple Watches
Cost: $0.99
Who should use it:  Anyone looking to monitor their caffeine intake
Why use it:  As we move into September, students are back in school, on college campuses and the days are shorter, many people turn to caffeinated beverages to give themselves a boost.  While caffeine can be very useful, we can get too much and it can cause medical problems.  Insomnia, palpitations and dyspepsia can all occur with ingesting too much caffeine and many people will have withdrawal symptoms when they do not have their usual amount of caffeine.  That is where this month’s health app comes in, Caffiend.
       Caffiend is a mobile health app that help you track and measure your caffeine use.  It easily allows you find the amount of caffeine in your favorite beverages.  You can see how much caffeine is in each drink and how much you have consumed each day.
       The benefit of tracking your caffeine use is two fold.  By tracking, you can make sure to limit your use to an acceptable level.  Most consider less than 400mg to be a good goal, although that is something that you should discuss with your own personal physician.  The other benefit could be to compare any symptoms you might have that could be caffeine related.  For example, is your caffeine intake too high in the evening and if you adjust your caffeine intake, does that improve at all.
       The Caffiend app also is set up to help you monitor your overall water intake as well.  It is a nice way to track both at the same time if you so choose.caffiene-healthkit-dashboard
       The one drawback to the Caffiend app is that you can not visualize your caffeine intake
graphically at all.  The easiest solution to this is to sink the app up with your HealthKit.  You can keep track of your caffeine along side your steps, miles and weight.