Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are changing people’s lifestyles at a rapid pace, including how they manage their health care. Health care providers and patients are increasingly communicating via mobile technology and many doctors are actually prescribing health apps to their patients for everything from pill reminders to managing their diabetes to using a family planning method (hello CycleBeads!).The development and adoption of health apps has exploded in a short time, and continues to grow with thousands of medical apps available for mobile devices. Experts forecast that mobile health (or mHealth as the industry is becoming known) is going to change how healthcare is delivered and managed over the next few years.
Why Are Mobile Health Apps Important?
As of 2012, about half of Americans had smartphones or tablets, and about 85% had internet access. The benefits of incorporating mobile technologies into our healthcare system are numerous. Doctors can reach more patients, have a better interaction with patients, and better monitor patients with the use of mobile health technologies. Additionally, using health apps can reduce costs significantly both for the provider and patient. Costs are reduced because doctors and patients are able to better manage the patients’ health conditions, there are fewer trips to the doctor’s office, and in some cases apps offer a low cost alternative to otherwise expensive treatments.
Are There Concerns When It Comes to Prescribing Health Apps?
Yes. Any app that a doctor prescribes to patients should be vetted to ensure that the claims made are accurate, and that the application actually works as intended. Security and privacy are also a concern as patient information is being communicated in such a way that hackers may be able to gain access to it. Many doctors are wary of prescribing apps as they simply don’t have the time to figure out which ones are good and which ones are not.
How Can Doctors Find Apps for Their Patients?
As doctors themselves increasingly use apps, they become more comfortable with the technologies available. Additionally, new services to help health care providers sift through the huge numbers of health apps available and identify ones that might be appropriate for their patients are being created. One such resource is Happtique, a subsidiary of the business arm of the Greater New York Hospital Association, which is creating a system to allow doctors to identify and prescribe apps.
CycleBeads Family Planning Apps
Cycle Technologies has developed CycleBeads family planning apps to address the interest in using this natural family planning method through mobile devices. These family planning apps include CycleBeads Online which can be used via a subscription service through the CycleBeads.com website and CycleBeads smartphone apps which can be used on iPhone and Android phones.