Swipe Here to Improve Your eHealth

ehealthDr. Kendall Ho is an emergency room physician at Vancouver General Hospital and he’s swapping his scalpel for his smartphone to lead BC’s eHealth Strategy Office.

The eHealth Strategy Office carries out research, community engagement and educational activities to explore how modern information and communication technologies such as smartphones, can improve health care. One area of focus is smartphone health apps.

health-e-apps

To help you find the right app, Dr. Ho has launched the “Health-e-Apps” project in hopes that smartphone users will try new health apps. Dr. Ho has also created a series of video clips where various health and wellness apps will be reviewed by a medical doctor.

From the Health-e-Apps website:

“With more than 40,000 mobile health and wellness apps for your smart phone at your fingertips, knowing which one to download can be a challenge. Many apps out there lack clinical evidence. You already trust your doctor to give you evidence-based health advice, so why not trust a doctor to tell you what health app is right for you?”

ehealth apps

During their exploration of digital technologies, the eHealth Office has embraced social media sites like Twitter and YouTube to crowdsource feedback and get suggestions from its users on their favourite apps.

“We are looking at introducing these apps on a regular basis so that we have a video, a short video, one-and-a-half to two minutes or so, just to quickly introduce that app and how it can be used,” said Ho. “We really want the readers and people who go there to actually look at the app, try it and let me know, let us know, how that app is helping you. This way we can learn together on how to best use these apps.”

With this project well underway, Dr. Ho has already selected a few apps for us to try; one is the Sleep Time App, by Azumio. This app eliminates the blaring alarm clock that shocks you out of a deep sleep. Instead, the app monitors your sleep and nudges you out of your dream world before it’s time to wake up. You leave your phone by your pillow and the app detects your body movements, from light sleep to when you are dreaming and only your eyeballs are moving.

Sleep Time

We do love our smartphone apps here at Iridia, whether it’s to control our computers, check our email, or meet on the fly, they are tools we can’t live without. It will be interesting to see what Dr. Ho brings us on the health app front and how we can incorporate them into our daily lives.

Do you have any health apps that you can’t live without? Let Dr. Ho and his team know on Twitter: https://twitter.com/eHealthStrategy

 

Mobile Health Enters the Mainstream

Mobile Health

Many doctors are looking towards the future of mobile health as they put away their trusty stethoscopes. Dr. Topol, the chief academic officer for Scripps Health, a San Diego-based non-profit healthcare network, felt no need to reminisce either. When he moved on to a portable ultrasound device, roughly the size of a cellphone, he never looked back.

When he puts it to a patient’s chest, the device allows him to peer directly into the heart, and check out the muscle, the valves, the rhythm and the blood flow.

“Why would I listen to ‘lub dub’ when I can see everything?” Dr. Topol says.

Dr. Topol is one of many health care professionals who are embracing the explosion of new health technologies. The driving force behind this revolution has been the emergence of smartphones.

Mobile health - portable ultrasound

 

He and other physicians say mobile health technologies can not only improve diagnoses and treatment, but also revolutionize how doctors and patients think about health care. Mobile tools allow physicians to monitor vital signs, note changes in activity levels and verify that medications have been taken, without ever seeing a patient face to face. That means fewer office visits and fewer hospitalizations.

For their part, patients can monitor their health in real time by gaining access to an unprecedented amount of data that will allow patients to “take charge of their own health care,” Dr. Topol says.

Doctors are not the only ones seeing major breakthroughs and changes in the way they deliver care. Emergency responders are also on the front line of another innovation, the digital ambulance. New technologies are allowing a slew of tech upgrades that can give first responders the edge they need for delivering the best possible care.

One such wireless ambulance system uses a small video camera, digital stethoscope and microphone mounted on a stretcher to transmit live images of the patient to the treatment team waiting in the hospital emergency room. Paramedics and nurses in the ambulance can send close-up images of wounds, real-time video of the patient’s response to various treatments, and
audio of heartbeats and respiration.

mobile health app

This system is especially useful for ambulances that operate in rural communities, which places them some distance to local health facilities.

Although technical breakthroughs have the potential to deliver better care, they can be costly, and many health care technology companies are working on low cost initiatives with smartphones.

In an era where many medical schools hand out iPods along with dissection kits, Dr. Topol says smartphone apps, wireless sensors and other innovative tools hold “transformative potential.”

Smartphone apps aimed at delivering better mobile health care are being developed and expanded on constantly, and can deliver a wide variety of services that save doctors and EMS time and money.