Smartphones are mobile telephones with Internet access. Apps are the phone programs that let you play games, manage your email, and increasingly, monitor your health. Some apps come with the smartphone, but millions more can be downloaded to the phone through a preinstalled program. Look for an “apps” or “store” icon.
“Definitely use them if they help you watch your weight, remind you to take daily medications, or motivate you to walk and exercise,” says Dr. Beverly B. Green, a Group Health physician and Group Health Research Institute associate investigator who studies how technology can support providers and patients in monitoring chronic conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease. But right now, deviceless smartphone apps that measure body functions such as blood pressure are mostly for fun.”
Thoughtful use of apps could help you reach your health goals.
On the other hand, apps that collect readings from an approved medical device recommended by your physician can be clinically useful, says Dr. Green. And smartphones can connect patients and care teams in other ways, such as text message reminders from pharmacists about prescription renewals. However, says Dr. Green, current smartphone apps that directly measure heart rate or blood pressure, for example, need to be validated in many clinical studies before they can be declared reliable.
Health monitoring is moving out of clinics and into homes and communities, though. Blood pressure-measuring stations in drugstores are just one example. As people become frequent users of on-the-go health monitoring, Dr. Green says, smartphone health apps should become more common, accurate, and user-friendly.
by Chris Tachibana
from Group Health Research Institute
from Group Health Cooperative