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As long as mobile apps have been popular, healthcare and software companies have been trying to work together to develop apps to improve life for both patients and caregivers. Unfortunately most have met with limited success.
Yet the highly innovative fields of high tech and healthcare are not giving up. In fact, efforts are ramping up to both create better mobile apps and improve user experience in those already existing.
Here are 3 healthcare apps focusing on improving health outcomes and user experience.
Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies (CBIT) are diving into mobile app use for its clinical trials with the ThinkFeelDo website and the IntelliCare suite of apps for Android (iOS is on the way). These apps don’t just allow caregivers to communicate with patients; they help teach mental health patients cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. Coming with text, animation and video, the modular apps allow caregivers to review patient progress and intervene during lessons when patients run into trouble.
“Mobile interventions have much farther reach than individual providers can have,” said Kenneth Weingardt, scientific director at CBIT. “They can reach many more people beyond those we can see in our clinic. And a health system that adopts these kinds of tools can improve their bandwidth and their ability to address these problems beyond the capacity of their workforce.”
In Chicago, the Cook County Health and Hospitals System (CCHHS) is targeting low-income patients with a new telehealth technology suite called eConsult. CCHHS is testing a pilot program where nearly 35,000 Medicaid patients and their doctors have access to the software which allows primary care doctors and specialists to chat and share images. By granting general practitioners access to specialists, eConsult has prevented the need for an appointment in 30% of consultations, saving these at-risk patients valuable time and money whenever possible.
The federal government is moving to support healthcare apps as well. The Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology recently announced that they intend to spur the development of market-ready, user-friendly healthcare apps. To that end, the Department has issues two software challenges with a total of $350,000 available for app development. Split between one competition for consumer apps and another for healthcare providers, the efforts are part of a government initiative to better align the full potential of healthcare IT innovation with direct benefits to those patients and healthcare workers that need it most.
“This strategy will help us reach the consumer and provider-friendly future of health IT we all seek,” said Karen B. DeSalvo, MD, national coordinator for health information technology. “It reflects our guiding principles that consumers and providers should have easy, secure access to health information and the ability to direct that information when and where it is needed most.”
With all this forward movement on upgrading access to care through healthcare apps, we should all see more efficient doctor-patient communication and improved health outcomes sooner rather than later.
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