PEW research reported that 17% of mobile phone users are using their devices to look up health and medical information. Juniper estimated that 44 million health apps were downloaded in 2011. The increasing popularity of health and medical apps are due in part to the wearable, portable and user-friendly devices using smart sensors that can capture and transmit a variety of biometric data.
Research2guidance recently released a report, which found that the mobile health app market saw a 7 fold increase in total revenues in 2011 to a total of $718 million. No doubt this technology is everywhere and becoming increasing popular as a tool to use in clinics, bedside and at home. Below is a glance at some of the more interesting apps available.
by George Kong Softwares
This is a free app that allows testing of visual acuity, near reading vision, macular function and color vision. This app requires Wi-Fi only. This app can be used by patients to easily monitor their own eye conditions. It also helps eye care clinicians in testing and recording visual acuity using letters or tumbling E’s, color deficiency and macular function. Patients can then email their results to themselves or to their clinician.
by George Kong softwares
This is an interesting app that is a simulation/game of cataract surgery to test a physician’s hand-eye coordination. You can tear the membrane flap of the capsulorhexis with your finger or forceps to form a perfectly round opening for starting cataract surgery. The aim of the game is to prevent the membrane from tearing out to the side, while maintaining a round tear path. You get a score on how closely you reach the target and your procedure can be timed. The size of the pupil and the density the lens are adjustable. The second part of the simulation is using your fingers to control a virtual ultrasound probe to phaco a lens. You can control the position and angle of the probe by sliding your fingers. The aim is to phaco the lens into quadrants by following the guidelines and rotating the lens. Density of the lens and capsulorhexis size are adjustable. This app is a virtual reality simulator/game and is not intended for cataract surgery training!
OCT Browser (Free)
from the University of Pittsburgh
This app addresses one of the problems encountered with compiling 3D OCT images through direct manipulation of images, which can be time consuming. Now, 3D OCT images can be converted to an iPad friendly portable format and delivered to your iPad in less than a minute after the technicians is finished scanning your patient. This app is designed by physicians for physicians and is a fully functional software and part of the university’s OCY Browser Software Suite. It is a free app.
Retina Atlas HD ($30.99)
by Medina Systems
This is an interactive digital atlas of retinal diseases that contains over 2500 high-resolution digital retinal images including color photos, ICG and fluorescein retinal angiograms, autofluorescence and optical coherence tomograms of retinal diseases. The cases are arranged alphabetically by diagnosis, with images in each case ordered sequentially from color, red free to angiograms and OCT. Each specific diagnosis is linked to PubMed, allowing the user to search the latest peer-reviewed literature from within the application. These images can be enlarged to show detail and can be used for lectures, clinical instruction and patient counseling. The atlas also includes a collection of the best cases presented at the “Angiogram Meeting” at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne, Australia.
Clinical Ophthalmology: A Synopsis ($84.99)
by Elsevier, Inc.
Kanski’s legendary clinical images and guidance can help eye care specialists identify and mange virtually any common ophthalmic disorder. This app is a mobile edition of Kanski’s bestselling resource, featuring more than 1200 clinical images with pinch and zoom functionality.
Skin Scan - The Most Accurate Skin Cancer Detector on iPhone ($4.99)
by Skin Scan
This app uses a proprietary mathematical algorithm to calculate the fractal dimension of a mole and surrounding skin. It then builds a structural map that reveals the different growth patterns of the tissues involved. Skin Scan then processes this map to see if a mole has an abnormal development and alerts the user if a medical visit is required. The app classifies moles into 3 categories: high risk, medium risk and low risk. This app works by holding your device about 15 to 20 cm from the mole and taking a picture. Using 2 fingers, move and scale to fit as much of the mole inside the red control square. Press the Use button and the result will appear in a couple of seconds. You can archive the result in a case to track its development.
Most are available online. As an app, the American Journal of Ophthalmology is available as a free trial after which a subscription is required. The official journal of the AAO, Ophthalmology, is also available from Elsevier, Inc. Like AJO, there is a free trial period.
Sight Selector Lite (Free)
by Patient Education Concepts, Inc.
This app can be used by eye care professionals to help demonstrate various eye diseases and treatments to their patients. This app gives access to over 50 patient education topics grouped into 8 categories that can be purchased individually so that you can choose those most relevant to your practice. Anatomy of the eye is free, but the subspecialty categories range from $4.99 to $14.99.
visualFields easy (Free)
by George Kong softwares
This app can be used by patients for self-screening or by clinicians for a fast screening test in clinic or bedside. The testing only takes about 3 minutes per eye, 30 degrees from fixation horizontally and 24 degrees vertically can be tested. It tests about 24 points in all 4 quadrants.
There are various eye chart apps that can be downloaded to your iPad or iPhone to be used by patients or eye care specialists. Below are a few:
iSight Test ($10.99)
by Kay Pictures Ltd
This app can be used to test children as young as 18 months through adulthood.
Eye Chart Professional ($19.99)
by Dok LLC
This app can be used anywhere, by an eye care professional or patient.
Open Ophthalmology ($9.99)
by Wizzard Media
Open Ophthalmology is a meta-school in which lecturers from different departments have access to ophthalmology residents everywhere.
With all the advanced technology, there are advantages and disadvantages. Patients now have access to many medical tests at their fingertips, without having to actually step into a doctor’s office. Many of these apps are terrific for patients to monitor their disease processes, which may lead them to seek medical attention earlier. The disadvantage will be when patients start relying on these technology-generated systems, rather than a human body trained by several years of education and hands on exposure. If a misdiagnosis is made with these apps, or the patient gets a false sense of security about their conditions, that may delay a visit to a physician and disease outcome may be altered. Paramount is patient education in the long run and letting patients know how far to go with these apps. On the other hand, many of these apps are fantastic tools for physicians to not only educate themselves on the fly, but to use for better patient communication.
The FDA plans to regulate mobile health products in an attempt to minimize danger with respect to privacy and physical treatment and diagnosis. No doubt it will become increasingly difficult to get approval for apps that comply with HIPAA and FDA guidelines. Enjoy the freedom now!