ICBioethics Blog 

Health Technology Update: Mobile Health Apps to Keep your Eye On

Written by: Aimee Zellers

Last week I posted some information about mobile health apps that would be useful for healthcare professionals. This week’s blog aims at bringing mobile health apps to the people!

Mobile health apps can be great tools to help patients and physicians manage wellness and care, share information, and expand education. There are a number of mobile health apps that can assist patients in identifying health problems, monitoring current conditions, or simply tracking their personal health. There are many apps available, so one must choose carefully to ensure they select the best app for their intended purposes. Those listed below, in my opinion, are useful and credible because many have a very specific focus and are FDA approved.

Mobile Apps for Consumers


This app is just what it sounds like; it is for identifying and tracking suspicious moles. This is important because melanoma (often identified by moles or discolored skin) is the third most common type of skin cancer. According to their website: “Augmented Reality Technology uses advanced technology to give you real time analysis of asymmetry, border, colour, diameter and evolution [of the mole].” The app also provides a detailed analysis of the mole, allows for alarms and reminders to be set to re-check moles, save and archive photos to keep track of any developments and make new comparisons, and all this is on a SecureAll information system that keeps the health information confidential. This app is useful because it can help spread awareness and educate the public on the signs and dangers of skin cancer.

Check it out:


This app was built by NovoNordisk and its central purpose is to provide a tracking function for individuals with hemophilia. In the US there are about 18,000 individuals with hemophilia, so it’s narrow in scope but very useful as there aren’t many apps to manage and track bleeding disorders. The app can be programed to provide treatment reminders, as well as track the frequency, length, location, and status of bleeds. Users can also log other factors such as life experiences, pain levels, and health scores. The app can interface with a personal computer and other mobile devices to make tracking easy and the information record can also be shared with an individual’s care team.

Check it out:


The website touts it as a “symptom-to-provider pathway.” Basically after the users input the symptoms they are experiencing by following a series of question prompts, the program identifies possible causes/diagnosis, and recommends a course of action, whether it is seeking the care of family physician, going to the ER or clinic. The app can also assist in booking an appointment. The app provides users with helpful images, videos, and brief articles and descriptions. This can help users gain a better understanding of basic ailments, but if you do use this app also continue to use common sense (i.e. if the pain is bad, just go to the ER).

Check it out:

WellDoc’s Diabetes Manager

Diabetes affects about 26 million individuals in the US alone. This app is centered around helping those with diabetes manage their medication, treatment, blood-glucose level, and life plans and goals. This allows healthcare professionals a window in to really seeing what the needs of an individual patient are. Type 2 diabetes can be addressed in part by personal behavior. If health professionals can see where patients are really struggling, they can provide better support. According to their website: “At the system’s foundation is a seamless integration of technology, real-time data, analytics, ease-of-use and collaboration that ultimately drive improved metabolic outcomes and reduced health care costs.” By helping patients take control of their health with the additional support of healthcare professionals this app could help improve the lives of diabetics.

Check it out:

AliveCor Heart Monitor

This app comes with a device that attaches directly onto the iPhone 4 and 4S (the devise communicates wirelessly with the phone). This app and device make ECG screen much easier. The iPhone is essentially converted in a device that can take an electrocardiogram. The perks of this device/app combo is that it is an FDA approved Class II medical device; it is fully secure and HIPAA compliant with regard to the online access component. When information is shared with a health provider the information is encrypted in transit (and when at rest) to ensure patient privacy.

Check it out:

iHealth Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor

Their website does an excellent job summing up the product. “We’ve found a way to make checking your blood pressure even cooler. Our Wireless Blood Pressure Wrist Monitor attaches with a smaller cuff at the wrist, for easy on and off. It also uses motion sensor technology to ensure the most accurate read possible. Using our free iHealth mobile app, measure and track your systolic/diastolic numbers, heart rate, pulse wave and measurement time. Then share your results instantly.” This device operates on Bluetooth technology and received FDA 510(k) clearance in 2012.

Check it out:


This app/device combo was built by Indigogo and can not only support individual care but safety as well. The devices measure your blood alcohol level and so people can be safer in their decision making while enjoying themselves at a party, bar, or dinner. The device plugs into the headphone jack of a mobile smartphone. This could really improve the safety of all by reducing DUI’s and buzzed driving. This device is still in Beta testing but has an expected release of the summer of 2013. According to their website: “Breathometer is the World’s First Smartphone Breathalyzer, a device to help you drink responsibly and make safer decisions.”

Check it out:


This app is the mobile embodiment of the Blue Button initiative. The app allows patients to have instant access to their health records and share them with health providers. Users can access their personal records through one of four systems: MyMedicare, TRICARE Online, Aetna, and RelayHealth. Moreover, it is possible for patients to enter information, like current medications. Physicians can also access these records and add notes and recommendations for the patient to view. According to their website, “iBlueButton is the mobile embodiment of the Blue Button initiative to enable patients to easily access and share their health records with their physicians, anywhere and anytime. An award winning set of mobile apps working in tandem –one for consumers and one for healthcare providers, iBlueButton gives consumers easy, real-time and anywhere access to their Blue Button and other health records, and the ability to securely transmit these records to the healthcare provider they visit, directly from their mobile devices.”

Check it out:

Mitch GennusoComment