When we published our blog entry on Google Glass (“What Are YOU Looking At?”, March 2014), we speculated on the direction of some professional uses for this and other personal computer devices in the law enforcement and medical communities. It only took about a week before we ran across an article describing doctors using Google Glass in clinical settings, and it inspired us to continue looking into the range of medical apps available for professionals and individuals, as well as the growing network of trained volunteers who’ve sought instruction in CPR and other first aid techniques.
We also discovered inventors working on the development of external devices that can be attached to mobile devices to test blood for viruses or water for bacteria. An overwhelming array of monitoring and diagnostic tools is on the horizon, but many are available for your mobile device right now in the form of apps.
Perhaps the best known is Medscape from WebMD, available to anyone, but most often used by physicians, medical students, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to access medical news, drug dictionaries and disease treatment information. Medical calculators, health plan information, and drug dosing guidelines are other features of the app.
Individuals use apps for all sorts of self-monitoring, from their workout stats at the gym or track, to their heart rate, caloric intake or insulin levels, to tracking pregnancies or ovulation calendars. An app called Anti Mosquito even claims to act as a tool of prevention, discouraging mosquitoes, carriers of malaria and other diseases, with the use of ultrasonic sound. Reviews are mixed, but this provides an important caveat emptor for anyone looking for medical apps: Be sure to read the comments from users to help you determine whether a particular app will likely work for you.
Vigilant citizen heroes who want to be alerted to emergencies can turn to apps like PulsePoint. Users of this app who are trained in CPR can be notified of nearby emergencies, as well as the location of the closest Automated External Defibrillator (AED), offering heart attack victims another line of defense through this expanding network. Hundreds of communities are using location based services to alert trained citizens, and the volunteers themselves can track emergency vehicles that have been dispatched, incident locations, response statuses, and alternative routes. PulsePoint, too, is still a work in progress. For example, one user suggests adding a “search your area” or “agencies near me” button and more agency listings, one more indication that it’s important for potential subscribers to determine that the features of any app match their needs and expectations.
The expanding availability of medical knowledge and treatment options represents just one way apps are making the world a better place. Individuals, professionals, and volunteers are gaining new insight into the latest diagnostic and technical information on their mobile phones and other devices. Apps broaden the conversation between patients and their doctors, and increase our chances to save lives. User recommendations and reviews expand that conversation even further, offering guidance and advice on the most appropriate apps. Knowledge is power, and apps offer new opportunities for anyone with a mobile device to help themselves and others.