An overview of clinically and healthcare related apps in Google and

An overview of clinically and healthcare related apps in Google and
Gan et al. Scientific Phone Apps and Mobile Devices (2016) 2:8
DOI 10.1186/s41070-016-0012-7
Scientific Phone Apps
and Mobile Devices
REVIEW
Open Access
An overview of clinically and healthcare
related apps in Google and Apple app
stores: connecting patients, drugs, and
clinicians
Samuel Ken-En Gan1,2*, Cornelius Koshy1, Phi-Vu Nguyen1 and Yu-Xuan Haw1
Abstract
Successful clinical outcomes involve both clinician and patient factors such as good decision making, accurate
diagnosis, patient compliance, effective monitoring of the condition, and accurate interpretation of clinical results.
With a general trend in healthcare towards personalized medicine, the smartphone holds great potential to play a
role in personalized care and aid in the above mentioned factors. Through the use of apps, the increasingly powerful
smartphone may be a useful aid in the healthcare and clinical industries. This review surveys the currently available
apps in Google and Apple app stores that are purposed for aiding healthcare and clinical use, and discusses how they
may also help transform the smartphone in a medically relevant device.
Introduction
In ancient times, physicians made house visits to the
sick, often administering medical attention within the
comforts of the patient’s home. Although house-visits do
continue to exist today, they are more common in
smaller towns or village communities and the very affluent in cities. In the developed world, there is a trend of
reversal in the mode of medical care of our forefathers:
from doctors attending to patients in their homes, to
patients consulting doctors in hospitals.
Such changes have risen out of the necessity for efficiency and improved healthcare. In a hospital/clinic, the
concentration of medical expertise, equipment and sanitized environment improves the quality of healthcare
over house-visits. Nonetheless, both models of consultation have their own disadvantages. In house visits, the
physician’s travelling time slows down the immediacy of
care and compromises diagnostic accuracy without the
necessary medical equipment (e.g. X-Ray machine). On
the other hand, we have the very real problem of long
* Correspondence: samuelg@bii.a-star.edu.sg
1
Bioinformatics Institute, Agency for Science, Technology, and Research
(A*STAR), Singapore 138671, Singapore
2
p53 Laboratory, Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR),
Singapore 138648, Singapore
patient waiting hours just for a few minutes of consultation or the collection of test results.
Regardless of the consultation model, today’s world offers a solution which overcomes the flaws of each model:
the smartphone. With the advancement and incorporation of technology into healthcare, it might be possible
to do away with physical visits, especially with video or
other imaging technology through smartphones. Patients
can get a quick consultation or access their test results
with accompanying clinical comments easily. If advanced
equipment are required, there might be possibility to
leverage on smartphone sensors as simple medical
equipment (e.g. microphone as a stethoscope), turning
the smartphone into a multi-purpose mobile medical
equipment that can be used by both patients and clincians.
Nonetheless, when dealing with clinical procedures,
accuracy and precision outweighs convenience and time.
With the growth of technology in medical diagnostics
(e.g. electronic ECG, electronic X-Ray), accuracy and efficiency are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Thus,
there is potential for the use of apps and wirelessly connected peripheral added sensors to enable the smartphone
to change the workings of the healthcare industry.
In spite of this potential and the pockets of activity towards this cause, there is a dearth of literature covering
© 2016 The Author(s). Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and
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the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Gan et al. Scientific Phone Apps and Mobile Devices (2016) 2:8
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Table 1 Clinical apps classified in ‘communication’ (as of Jan 2016)
App name
OS
Description
App type Hardware
DrBridge
Android
Helps doctors to follow up with patients and deliver care plans through
text messaging, email and app-to-app interactions
Hybrid
None
Drchrono EHR/EMR
iOS
Allows doctors to communicate with their patients
Hybrid
None
GatherPro
Android
Allows doctors to communicate with their patients
Hybrid
None
iOS
Communicates with doctors to schedule appointments
Hybrid
None
Medical & Health Records Caddy Android & iOS Manages and share patient list as well as patient tasks, notes, medications,
records, images, and messages.
Hybrid
None
Message patient management
Hybrid
None
- Patient Portal by ConstantMD
HealthJump
Allows doctors to communicate with their patients
iOS
Organises patient and treatment sessions
MedBooking
iOS
Allows patients to book their appointments
Hybrid
None
Practo Ray
iOS
Calls Patients for appointments
Hybrid
None
SirenMD
iOS
Sends messages, medical records and photos between health professionals Hybrid
None
the already available clinical aid apps that both the patient and the clinician can leverage on. To address this,
this review discusses the currently available clinically
and medically relevant apps and how they might be
incorporated into practice for better outcomes.
The future of mobile apps
Efficiency is one of pursuits of excellent healthcare especially in today’s growing demands of ageing populations
in many developed societies. Incorporating mobile apps
with internet connectivity into routine medical processes
(e.g. consultations) enhances the convenience for both
doctors and patients alike. In the common problem of
long waiting times, registration and appointments can
be booked using mobile apps without long queues for
the receptionist. Similarly, medical results or clinically
relevant pictures taken by patients can be sent through
secured apps to physicians and specialists for consultations without the physical transfer of document between
hospital departments. With increased efficiency in consultations and diagnosis, patients can be treated earlier,
thereby improving prognosis. It might even be possible
to do away with face to face outpatient consultations or
routine follow-up through the use of apps. Patients can
Table 2 Clinical apps classified in ‘patient data management’ (as of Jan 2016)
App name
OS
Description
App type
Clinic On Go - My Patients
Android
Manages patient information and appointments
Hybrid
Hardware
None
Doctors Aid - OPD Management
- Doctor Assist
- Doctor Assistant
- My patients
- Patient Doctor Records
Android
Manages and stores patients’ health and medical records
Native
None
Doctor Buddy – Patients Manager
HouseOfficer
Lybrate For Doctors
iOS
Manages and stores patient info for Doctors
Manages and store patient info for Doctors
Manages and store patient info for Doctors
Native
None
Hospital Rounds Management
iOS
Stores patient details, diagnosis and billing codes
Native
None
iGrade for psych
iOS
Manages patient info for psychotherapists
Native
None
MDclick for Physicians
iOS
Shares patient info with other health professionals
Hybrid
None
MedicoSA
Android
Enables Physicians to access patient appointments, patient history,
and write e-prescriptions
Hybrid
None
OPD MANAGEMENT
Android
Stores information such as Patient History, Patient Diagnosis,
and Prescription
Native
None
Patient History Taker
Android
Database app for medical history for patients
Native
None
Practice Management
Android
An application that helps record data of patient
Hybrid
None
Patient Management System
Android
Manages the patient’s medical record and able to standardize
diagnosis and action.
Native
None
Patient List
iOS
Keeps track on patients’ info
Hybrid
None
Prescapp - Doctors
iOS
Manages and stores patient info
Native
None
Gan et al. Scientific Phone Apps and Mobile Devices (2016) 2:8
receive professional consultation through apps in the
comfort of their homes, a scenario that is especially
beneficial for elderly patients or those with high dependency to getting around.
Page 3 of 9
Table 3 Clinical apps classified in ‘patient health monitors and
trackers’ (general health) (as of Jan 2016)
App name
OS
Description
Cure companion Android Keeps track of patients’
health records
Displacing medical equipment for lower healthcare costs
The rising costs of healthcare, contributed by the increasing costs of skilled personnel, medical equipment and
infrastructure, poses a challenge to accessible healthcare
to the less privileged in society. On this problem, the
smartphone might help to reduce costs by displacing expensive medical equipment with clinical mobile apps that
leverage on the many sensors in smartphones. One such
example is the displacement of a heart rate monitor (costing between USD$70 - $150) with a free heart rate monitor app that functions via the in-built microphone or
camera. Coupled with internet connectivity, one can even
easily send results to clinicians, a feature that most current
medical equipment lack. Should artificial intelligence be
incorporated, these apps may further aid in diagnosis by
detecting abnormalities.
Patient compliance
Patient compliance to clinical advice and care is essential
for successful clinical outcomes (Martin et al. 2005). The
most effective treatment regimens would be rendered ineffective if patients failed to comply. This is particularly
true for chronic diseases where patient compliance directly affects disease control. On this aspect, mobile apps
that monitor patient conditions and sends reminders of
treatment would certainly be a boon for chronic disease
management. This is especially so if clinicians can use
such apps to monitor disease/symptoms for diagnosis
and adjustment of treatment methods.
Clinical mobile apps
In view of the potential for mobile apps in the abovementioned areas, we did a survey of apps in the Google
and Apple app stores using key words: “patient info
management”, “patient health monitor”, “eye diagnosis”, “skin diagnosis”, “blood pressure”, “heart beat
rate”, “medical calculator” and “patient compliance”.
As of early 2016, we found over 1121 and 536 apps in
Google Play Store and Apple App Store, respectively.
Only about 139 apps of these were directly relevant to
practical uses for healthcare. Of these, 30 apps were for
patient data management and communication; 44 apps
for patient health monitoring; 36 apps for clinical diagnosis; 21 apps for medical calculations; and 7 apps for
patient compliance. Within these, we further classified
them into nine categories based on their functions.
App
type
Hardware
Hybrid None
Data Manager
for Fitbit
iOS
Track health related data Native None
such as weight, sleep and
body fat
HealthTouch
iOS
Records and tracks key
health stats
Native None
iThermonitor
iOS
Monitors the body
temperature
Native None
The various categories of apps relevant to healthcare and
medical purposes
Clinical care communication [Table 1]
In healthcare, timely communication between a patient and doctor enables the former to get medical advice and the latter to keep track of the patient
condition and intervene when necessary. A range of
clinical communication apps have been developed to
facilitate better communication between patients and
clinicians. One notable example of such apps is ‘HealthJump’ (Healthjump Inc 2015) which not only allows patients to schedule their appointments with their doctors,
but also provides medical records securely.
Patient data management [Table 2]
Patient data management is tantamount for accurate
diagnosis/disease management and has to be secured to
ensure patient confidentiality. Incomplete or missing reports can result in the loss of crucial information that
could have serious clinical consequences (e.g. drug allergies). Apps in this area facilitate the viewing, storage and
management of patient data without the spatial constraints of desk-bound medical computer systems. ‘My
Patients’ (Evgeny 2015) and ‘Patient Reports Doctor ON
GO-T’ (Siyami Apps 2015) are example apps that allow
the clinicians to view patients’ medical history, diagnosis
and prescription on the go. Such apps make clinical
rounds in the ward or house visits much more convenient, doing away with bulky files and folders.
Table 4 Clinical apps classified in ‘patient health monitors and
trackers’ (heart rate) (as of Jan 2016)
App Name
OS
Cardiograph pro
Android Saves patient’s daily Native
Blood Pressure and
Heart Rate
Description
App type Hardware
None
Heart Rate monitor iOS
Tracks and records
heart rate
Native
None
PulsePRO
Monitors patient
heart rate
Hybrid
None
iOS
Gan et al. Scientific Phone Apps and Mobile Devices (2016) 2:8
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Table 5 Clinical apps classified in ‘patient health monitors and tracker’ (blood pressure) (as of Jan 2016)
App Name
OS
Description
App type
Hardware
Acc. Blood pressure
Android
Keeps track on blood pressure measurements
Native
None
Best Blood Pressure Monitor
iOS
Tracks and automatically collect blood pressure measurements
via bluetooth
Native
Tonometer
Blood Pressure
iOS
Manages and track blood pressure progress
Native
None
Blood Pressure (BP) Watch
Android
Collect, track, analyze and share your blood pressure record
Native
None
Blood Pressure Companion
iOS
Tracks Blood pressure, weight and heart health
Native
None
Blood pressure diary
Android
Keeps track on blood pressure records
Native
None
Blood pressure monitor pro
Android & iOS
Keeps track on blood pressure records
Native
None
Blood Pressure log diary
Android
Keeps track on blood pressure records
Native
None
Blood Pressure Tracker
Android
Tracker of Patients’ blood pressure records
Hybrid
None
Blood Pressure PRO
Android
Collect and analyze blood pressure measurements
Native
None
Blood Pressure lite
Android & iOS
helps keep track of blood pressure and weight
Native
None
Blood Pressure + Pulse Grapher lite
iOS
Records blood pressure and pulse rate measurements
Native
None
Bloody Pressure
iOS
Record, track and share blood pressure measurements.
Native
None
HeartStar Blood Pressure Monitor
iOS
Monitors blood pressure and automatically records via bluetooth
Native
none
My Blood Pressure
Android
Records blood pressure measurements taken
Native
None
Besides secured data transmission and data encryption necessary for patient confidentiality, there are
other limitations for such apps. One such limitation
is the accessibility of file formats where certain medical equipment may store data (e.g. X-Ray, ECG printouts etc.) in specific file formats not easily accessed
on the apps. It is also questionable if the small screen
of these mobile devices would allow sufficient analysis
of important test results (e.g. small abnormalities in
X-Rays). Although difficult viewing conditions may increase human errors, this can be mitigated with image
processing algorithms that perform automated diagnostic
parameters to detect anomalies.
Patient health monitors and trackers [Tables 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,
9, 10 and 11]
Apps in this category facilitate the recording and monitoring of disease conditions after diagnosis. In the example of hypertension, ambulatory monitoring may
enable better diagnosis (Gan et al. 2003) as compared to
readings taken at clinics that may be confounded by psychosomatic fear. Some apps in this category can do more
to make a comparison analysis with previous data and
alert the user of significant fluctuations in the condition.
‘Blood Pressure Diary’ (FRUCT 2016) and ‘PulsePRO’
(Cocoalena Software 2015) are examples of such apps
that record, analyse and send the clinical measurements
to attending physicians without the need of an ambulatory machine (typically costing up to hundreds of dollars). With a wide range of types and functions, other
apps are also made to track patient’s general health, skin
problems, eye problems, blood parameters, menstrual
cycles and the presence of diseases. With such monitors
and trackers, behavioural changes that improve eating
habits and physical activity levels have been observed in
young adults. Thus such monitoring apps do encourage
patients to be more aware of their daily condition
(Higgins 2015).
Heart rate measurement [Table 12]
As a subgroup of the health monitoring apps, heart
rate measurement apps form a significant bulk of the
group in the mega app stores. Basic heart rate information can be an indicator of general health and aid in
both monitoring and detection of cardiac problems.
Apps in this category often function like a stethoscope
by using the microphone or camera in the smartphones.
Table 6 Clinical apps classified in ‘patient health monitors and
trackers’ (skin conditions) (as of Jan 2016)
App name
OS
FotoSkin
Android Tracks photos of patient’s skin
& iOS
for easy diagnosis of skin
cancer for dermatologist.
Skin Tagger iOS
Description
App
type
Hardware
Hybrid Camera
Tracks photos of skin pictures Hybrid Camera
Table 7 Clinical apps classified in ‘patient health monitors and
trackers’ (eye conditions) (as of Jan 2016)
App name OS
Paxos
checkup
Description
App
type
Hardware
iOS Allows patients to monitor their
Hybrid None
vision and physicians to keep track
Gan et al. Scientific Phone Apps and Mobile Devices (2016) 2:8
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Table 8 Clinical apps classified in ‘patient health monitors and
trackers’ (blood constituent levels) (as of Jan 2016)
Table 10 Clinical apps classified in ‘patient health monitors and
trackers’ (versatile health management) (as of Jan 2016)
App name
OS
App name
OS
Description
App
type
Calcium Pro
Native None
Android Tracks and monitors
the blood calcium,
vitamin D levels of
Patient for osteoporosis
BloodPressureDB
Android
& iOS
Hybrid None
Glucose Buddy :
Diabetes Log
Android Manages Diabetes by
tracking glucose levels
Native None
Track, monitor and
store your blood
pressure along with
your pulse, blood
sugar and BMI
BP Wiz
iOS
Glucose Monitor
iOS
Native None
Tracks Blood pressure, Native None
weight and heart
health. It also tracks
medication
Diabetes Manager iOS
Tracks Blood glucose, Native None
blood pressure,
weight and etc.
Health Tracker &
Manager
iOS
Tracks blood glucose
and pressure levels
Heart Wise Blood
Pressure Tracker
iOS
Tracks Blood pressure, Native None
weight and heart rate
Qardio Heart
Health, Weight
and Blood
Pressure Monitor
iOS
Tracks Blood pressure, Native None
weight and heart
health
Description
Tracks glucose level
and weight
App
type
Hardware
Iron Tracker –
Android Allows patients to track Native None
Hemochromatosis
and monitor their iron
levels
One Drop
iOS
Manages Diabetes by
tracking glucose levels
Native None
One example, the ‘Cardiograph Heart Rate Monitor’
(BIG DREAMS Lab 2014) app measures the user’s heart
rate via the placement of the index finger on the camera.
Through the inbuilt camera flash, the app would then
track the colour changes on the finger. There is also a
significant move in this area towards peripheral devices,
where there has been an increase in smart watches (built
by major smartphone makers e.g. Apple, Samsung, etc.,
and other technology companies e.g. Fitbit) that monitors heart rate and send data to the smartphone.
Blood pressure measurement [Table 13]
Similar to measuring heart rate, measuring blood pressure is also another indicator of health status and condition. However unlike heart rate apps, the typical
measurement of blood pressure would require the use of
peripheral cuff devices connected to the smartphone.
Nonetheless one app seems to be able to measure the
parameter indirectly without the use of external devices.
The ‘Instant Blood Pressure’ (Auralife 2014) relies on inbuilt camera and flash to provide blood pressure readings. As the technology is protected, it is likely that the
dominant apps in this type would be more dependent on
peripheral devices.
Table 9 Clinical apps classified in ‘patient health monitors and
trackers’ (female menstrual cycle) (as of Jan 2016)
App
type
Hardware
Native None
Eye diagnosis [Table 14]
Apps in this category leverage on the camera/screen
to allow for convenient and quick analysis and storage
of eye images and tests. The ‘Colour Blindness Test’
(DaDo 2014) app tests for colour blindness and provides category of colour blindness in the result analysis.
Another app such as ‘Pain Eye’ (Medina 2014) helps to
investigate eye pain using captured images of the pupil
using the smartphone’s camera. Using clip-on peripheral camera adaptors, ‘Peek Retina’ (Peek 2015) was
created by a team of eye specialists, software developers, designers and engineers for remote diagnosis.
Many apps in this category leverage on the inbuilt
Table 11 Clinical apps classified in ‘patient health monitors and
trackers’ (disease, pain and injury) (as of Jan 2016)
App name
OS
Description
App
type
FIND TB
Android
Supports clinicians in
making decisions on the
diagnosis and treatment
of TB.
Native Camera
Native None
Hardware
Hardware
App
name
OS
Description
Eva Diary
iOS
Tracks patients’ period cycles Native
and ovulation
None
Managing My iOS
Hepatitis C
Monitors patients’ health
condition on Hepatitis
Period
Tracker
Android Helps keep track on menstrual Native
cycle
None
Mobile
REMM
Android
& iOS
iObstetrics Android A tool to allow specialists to Hybrid
Pro
monitor and synchronise the
progress of every patient’s
pregnancy from their Pc,
SmartPhone or Tablet.
None
For clinical diagnosis and
Native None
treatment of radiation injury
during radiological and
nuclear emergencies.
Pain
Stethoscope
Android
Assess and graph patientreported outcomes of
chronic pain management
over time.
Native None
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Table 12 Clinical apps classified in ‘heart rate measurement’ (as of Jan 2016)
App name
OS
Description
App type
Hardware
Cardiometer ANT+ Heart Rate
Android
Measures and monitors heart rate
Native
Heart rate Chest
Straps
Cardiograph Heart Rate Monitor
Android & iOS
Measures and monitors heart rate
Native
Camera with Flash
Heart Beat Rate
Android
An application to measure heart rate
Native
Camera with Flash
Heart Rate Plus LITE
iOS
Measures and monitors patients’ heart rate
Native
Camera with Flash
Heart Rate Monitor
Android
Measures heart rate via placing your index finger on the
phone’s camera len
Native
Camera with Flash
Heart Rate Monitor Ant+
Android
Measures and monitors heart rate
Native
Heart rate Chest
Straps
Medtimer
iOS
Measure the time for each heart beat or breath to calculate
heart rate
Native
None
iStethoscope Pro
iOS
Records heart beat and showing heart waveform for practioners.
Native
Camera with Flash
Instant Heart Rate
Android & iOS
Measures heart rate via placing your index finger on the
phone’s camera len
Native
Camera with Flash
Runtastic Heart Rate Monitor
Android & iOS
Measures heart rate via placing your index finger on the
phone’s camera len
Native
Camera with Flash
What’s My Heart Rate
Android & iOS
Measures the heart rate and breath rate through the lens of
the camera
Native
Camera
cameras in smartphones, and there is potential for
these apps to even aid in detecting abnormalities when
coupled with advanced image processing and artificial
intelligent algorithms.
Skin diagnosis [Table 15]
Like the ophthalmology apps, skin diagnosis apps leverage on the smartphone inbuilt camera and image
processing algorithms. Captured images of the skin are
compared against a database of disease images. Apps
such as ‘Mole Doctor Skin Cancer App Dermatologist’
(Teodorescu 2014) and ‘Skin Analytics’ (Skin Analytics
Development 2014) enable the comparison of mole pictures against skin cancer images. These images can then
be sent to dermatologists, making diagnosis more convenient. One limitation of such image based apps is that
they are sensitive to the lighting and environmental factors during image capture. Such factors may severely
affect the quality of the images and lead to poor diagnostic accuracies.
Medical calculators [Tables 16 and 17]
One frequent clinical mistake that can be fatal in medical treatment is the calculation of dosage. To prevent
these mistakes, there are apps available to provide necessary medical calculations, conversions and chemical
formulae checks. One such app, ‘Calculate by QxMD’
(QxMD Medical Software Inc 2015) app provides a
number of unique calculators specific to various medical
specialities and decision support tools including risk analysis. Another example, the Thyroid-SPOT (Sim et al.
2016) apps (Doctor and Patient versions) compute the
homeostatic euthyroid set point, guiding the optimization
of personalized treatment plans as well as to monitor the
patient’s condition. With these apps, more informed patients can also do their part and check their prescription
or treatment regimen thus reducing clinical errors.
Patient compliance [Table 18]
As discussed earlier, patient compliance is a key factor
in the success of treatment regimens. Considering also
that most patients are willing to receive medication
Table 13 Clinical apps classified in ‘blood pressure measurement’ (as of Jan 2016)
App name
OS
Description
App type
Hardware
BP Calculator
Android
Measures the blood pressure and keep record of blood pressure at
regular intervals.
Native
None
iBP Blood Pressure
Android & iOS
Blood pressure tracking and analysis tool.
Native
Blood Pressure scrap
iHealth BPM
iOS
Measures blood pressure using a blood pressure dock.
Native
Blood Pressure Dock
Perf.Blood Pressure
(BP)Monitor
Android
Calculates and measures your blood pressure via touching thumb on
the screen
Native
None
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Table 14 Clinical apps classified in ‘eye diagnosis’ (as of Jan 2016)
App name
OS
Description
App type
Hardware
Anomaloscope
iOS
Tests for colour vision of patients
Native
None
AmslerPro
iOS
Tests for abnormality in the foveal vision
Native
None
Color Blindness Test
Android
Tests for colour blindness
Native
None
Eye Care Plus - Eye Exercises
Android
Contains eye test to check visual acuity and information on eye health
Native
None
Eye Diagnosis
Android
Supports the visualization of eye photographs to help practitioners
diagnose eye diseases.
Native
Camera
Eye test
Eye Test Charts
Full Visual Test
Vision Test 2.0
Android
Android
Android
Android
Contains many eye tests including Visual acuity test
Tests for visual acuity
Tests for visual acuity
Tests for visual acuity
Native
None
Morphision
iOS
Qualifies the symptom of distortion in their patient’s eyes
Native
None
Pain Eye
iOS
Takes pictures of eyes to diagnose eye pains
Native
Camera
TeleMed
Android
An application that connects to healthcare services and allows sending
photos of eye as part of medical teleconsultation.
Hybrid
None
Visual Acuity Test
Android
Monitor acuteness and clearness of vision in person’s eyes
Native
None
Vision Test
Android
Includes visual acuity test
Native
None
reminders (Kebede, et al. 2015) and likely to possess
smartphones, medication reminder apps can improve
compliance. One such example, ‘Medisafe Meds & Pill
Reminder’ (MediSafe™ 2016) monitors and has reminders for scheduled medication times. Such apps are
particularly useful for the elderly and those with multiple
treatment regimens concurrently.
Discussion
With the smartphone becoming increasingly versatile in
different fields of work, there is great promise for its role
in the future of personalized medicine. In the current
survey of the available apps in the largest apps stores:
Google and Apple, we surveyed relevant apps that benefit both clinicians and patients. While there are many
apps within the various medical specialities that may
exist, they were not covered as focus is given to areas
where patients can play a role, such as taking pictures
(skin/eye) for better monitoring and diagnosis. Obviously, certain levels of technical savviness and acceptance from the users (both patient and clinicians) are
necessary for the desired benefits of using these apps.
The apps surveyed in this review focus on the many
clinical aspects with the end-goal of improving the efficiency, cost, simplicity and effectiveness of healthcare.
While a horde of apps exist, the majority found in
Google and Apple app stores are either glossaries of
clinical information apps for health professionals, or
basic health knowledge apps for the layman. Even
amongst the numerous apps designed for clinical data
management and monitoring health, only a minority
were found to be of direct practical use. In fact, focussing on the directly practical apps, there is a paucity of
evidence-based or professional-informed apps (Majeed-
Table 15 Clinical apps classified in ‘skin diagnosis’ (as of Jan 2016)
App name
OS
Description
App type
Hardware
Doctor Mole – Skin Cancer App
Android
iOS
Automatic analysis of mole images to diagnose skin cancer.
Native
Camera
Mole Checker
iOS
Takes pictures of skin moles and keep track of changes
Native
Camera
Skin Analytics
Android
Takes photos of skin moles and compares for diagnosis of skin cancer
Native
Camera
Skin Cancer App – MySkinPal
Android
Takes photos of skin moles and compares for diagnosis of skin cancer
SkinVision - Melanoma app
Android
Takes photos of skin moles and compares for diagnosis of skin cancer
Skin MD Now - Expert Skin Help
Android
Send skin photos to Dermatologists for quick diagnosis.
Hybrid
Camera
Skin Scanner
Android
Takes photos of skin moles for analysis for skin cancer
Hybrid
Camera
SpotMole
Android
Scans photos of skin moles to detect for melanoma
Native
Camera
iDoc24 - Dermatologist Online
Android & iOS
Sends on-demand dermatologist skin photos for diagnosis
and monitoring.
Hybrid
Camera
Gan et al. Scientific Phone Apps and Mobile Devices (2016) 2:8
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Table 16 Clinical apps classified in ‘medical calculators’ (calculations) (as of Jan 2016)
App name
OS
Description
App
type
Hardware
ACC Guideline Clinical App
Android
Contains interactive tools such as risk scores, dosing calculators, and algorithms.
Native
None
BODE Calculator
Android
Calculates the COPD levels to treat lung diseases.
Native
None
Calculate by QxMD
Android
Includes tools for calculations used in clinical practice.
Native
None
CuidApp - Nurses and
Doctors
Android
Includes calculators and unit conversions.
Native
None
CKD Risk Calc Pro
iOS
Evaluates Chronic Kidney Disease via calculations
Native
None
Digoxin Calculator
Android
Estimates a patient’s digoxin requirements for the treatment of heart failure.
Native
None
Ezabx
Android
Contains a metric converter and references for common microbes and antibiotics.
Native
None
GRACE 2.0 ACS Risk
Calculator
Android
Calculates the probability of fatality after an acute coronary syndrome.
Native
None
GFR & BSA Calculator
Android
Estimates the expected Glomerular filtration rate of patients
Native
None
Haemoscore
Android
Includes score calculators & algorithms to facilitate decision making in both
diagnosis and treatment of thrombotic and bleeding problems.
Native
None
MedCalc 3000 Cardiac
Android
Provides medical equations, clinical calculator and dose/unit converters used by
Cardiovascular specialists
Native
None
Medical Calculators &
Equation
Android
Contains a wide range of calculators/convertors for medical purposes.
Native
None
Medical Formulas
Android &
iSO
Medical Calculator that access to main equations, formula and scores used in
clinical practice.
Native
None
Medical Tools
Android
Medical calculators, interpretation and scoring systems.
Native
None
Melanoma Visual Risk
Calculator
iOS
Calculates the possibility of a mole being a malignant melanoma
Native
Camera
Opioid Converter
Android
Application designed to aid with opioid dose conversions.
Native
None
Calculates ovulation cycle and tracks fertility rate
Native
None
Ovulation calculator & fertility iOS
tracker
Pedia BP
iOS
Blood pressure calculator
Native
None
Pregnancy Calculator
Android
Estimates the expected due date for the born of a baby.
Native
None
Throid-SPOT (Dr and Patient
versions)
Android and Calculates homeostatic euthryroid set points in thyroid diseases
iOS
Native
None
Ariss, et al. 2015; Krebs and Duncan 2015; Subhi et al.
2015). One contributing factor for the dearth of apps in
certain medical specialties is that certain diagnostic or
monitoring procedures may be dependent on peripheral
devices (see example of blood pressure and Peek Retina
above). Such demands of peripheral devices thus limit
the exploitation of smartphones. Other factors include
the administration and certification required of medical
devices which would vary between countries, and also
for the device type. As there are a large number of
smartphone models and makers, the in-built sensors in
these phones would vary. This results in significant
inter-equipment errors that may prevent any standardized guidelines or procedures required for professional
clinical use. These make certification and use of smartphone as medical devices more challenging and unlikely
to be approved by various authorities (scope of this is
beyond this article due to the varying requirements). In
the event they are approved for use, it is likely that many
of these smartphone-dependent devices will require
skilled personnel. As a result, clinical apps will mostly
play a supportive role rather than as direct medical
equipment replacements. Such limitations may be
slightly mitigated by standardised peripheral devices, but
Table 17 Clinical apps classified in ‘medical calculators’ (checkers) (as of Jan 2016)
App name
OS
Description
App type
Hardware
Drugs.com Medication Guide
Android
Provides drug information, identify pills, check interactions and set up personal
medication records for Health professionals.
Native
None
WebMD
Android
Includes decision-support tools such as WebMD’s Symptom Checker.
Native
None
Gan et al. Scientific Phone Apps and Mobile Devices (2016) 2:8
Page 9 of 9
Table 18 Clinical apps classified in ‘patient compliance’ (as of Jan 2016)
App name
OS
Description
App type
Hardware
Medisafe Meds & Pill Reminder
Android
Add medications, get reminders for taking pills and receive constant
tracking of your health progress.
Native
None
Medica Reminders
iOS
Adds medications, get reminders for taking pills and receive constant
tracking of your health progress.
Native
None
Pill Alert
iOS
MyPill
iOS
Birth control pill reminder
Native
None
Pill Reminder
iOS
Reminds patients to take medicine, contraceptive and other medication
Native
None
Pill Monitor Free
iOS
Medication reminder
Native
None
these peripheral devices have their own limitations in accessibility to the general public.
Nonetheless in societies with less stringent medical
regulation and where specialized medical equipment
may not be readily available, the smartphone certainly
has a role not only as a patient companion, but also as a
screening tool for health problems. The smartphone has
already been shown to aid in numerous areas: patient
monitoring, transmission of clinical data between patients and clinicians, encouraging patient compliance,
and helping with clinical calculations and decision making. Certainly the patient now has the resources to take
better ownership of their own health with such apps
(regulatory board approved or not) at their disposal.
Conclusion
With an obvious role in personalized healthcare, the
smartphone promises to be a portable medical toolkit/
clinical gathering device for both clinicians and patients.
Much remains to be done with much more apps and
peripheral devices that can be made, but with the collaborative effort between medical specialists, software developers and hardware engineers, the future of the
smartphone medical toolkit can be materialized. The
days of convenient house-visits might return in the form
of app consultations.
Competing interests
The authors declare no competing interests.
Authors’ contributions
CK and YX drafted the manuscript. PV made the tables. SKEG directed and
edited the writing of the manuscript. All authors have read and approve of
the final manuscript.
Received: 18 February 2016 Accepted: 6 June 2016
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