mHealth //

16 health apps you need to know about

“There’s an app for that,” goes the saying, and it’s increasingly true, especially in the healthcare industry. Mobile health apps make it easier for both patients and healthcare practitioners to monitor a multitude of conditions; patients can take control of their own long-term health conditions armed with knowledge and quick access to their own data. The health apps might be smartphone-only or on a desktop. Some are free, while others have a cost attached.

It’s useful to know what’s out there, whether you’re coming from a pharmaceutical background, perhaps planning to launch your own app, or if you’re a healthcare practitioner eager to know your options to advise patients.

According to Research2Guidance, a whopping 325,000 health apps were available in 2017, leading to an expected 3.7 billion downloads. In other words, it’s a huge market.

It’s simply not possible to keep up with that many apps at once, so here’s a quick rundown of 16 top apps by therapy area or condition and category:

Mental health

The app: Thrive Feel Stress Free, free (in-app purchases available)

What it does: Developed in the UK by consultant psychiatrists and psychologists, this evidence-based app proactively manages stress, anxiety and depression by keeping track of the user’s mood over time. This fully ICO-registered programme trains users in ‘self-soothing’ techniques, such as meditation and deep muscle relaxation to help them cope better with stressful situations. It also features a ‘thought trainer’ programme based on cognitive behavioural therapy techniques.

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Breast cancer

The app: OWise, free

What it does: The first app to be approved and listed in the NHS Apps Library, the OWise breast cancer app is suitable for use by breast cancer patients, during and after their treatment. It helps patients keep track of their treatment and wellbeing by recording levels of fatigue, appetite, pain and other aspects of their health. In turn this indicates trends and can provide users with a personalised list of questions for their doctor appointments.

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Type 1 diabetes

The app: mumoActive, free

What it does: Suitable for both adults and children with type 1 diabetes, and featured in the NHS Apps Library, mumoActive is a secure app that allows users to track their values, such as blood sugar, carbohydrates and insulin. The data is then collated into easy-to-understand graphs which patients can share with their doctor, carer or family to help them decide whether to test, exercise, eat or take insulin in order to best manage their diabetes.

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The app: myCOPD, free as an NHS service in some areas or a £20 lifetime licence.

What it does: This NHS-approved app helps people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to manage their condition. It can be used to perfect inhaler techniques, improve breathing, reduce exacerbations and track medication. It also allows clinicians to remotely check in with patients. myCOPD has been shown to correct 98% of inhaler errors without other clinical intervention, resulting in an improvement in quality of life.

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Health assessment

The app: Quealth, free

What it does: Quealth allows users to assess their risk of developing the five most common lifestyle-driven diseases: dementia, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, six forms of cancer and COPD. It uses answers to questions, assisted by live data from wearable trackers and mobile phones, to assess and score health risk status and guides users in improving their lifestyle and behaviour to reduce risk and help prevent the development of the conditions.

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Liver disease

The app: Predictive calculator to help HCPs identify patients at risk of liver disease

What it does: The University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS) has developed an app that helps GPs to assess a patient’s risk of liver disease using a traffic light test based on the results of assays carried out by the UHS. Results so far show that the app has helped to demonstrate that for alcohol related liver disease, feeding back an amber or red traffic light result doubles the number of patients who are drinking safely a year later.

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The app: MyAsthma, free

What it does: GSK’s MyAsthma app has been developed in collaboration with HCPs to put patients in control of their asthma. Users can track their condition by using the Asthma Control Test; monitor potential triggers, store their peak flow record and share information with their GP to help them understand their condition in more detail. MyAsthma is also one of the first examples of an app that is classified as a class 1 medical device.

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The app: Ask the Midwife, from 99p for one question to a £24.99 per month subscription

What it does: Run by registered midwives, this online advice service for expectant mums allows users to get a quick response to any questions they have about pregnancy, birth and beyond from an experienced midwife. The ASK Service allows users to ask one question and get one answer from a registered midwife via the app’s messaging service, while the CHAT Service is a real-time, fast response messaging service where users can request a conversation with a registered midwife.

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Medicines adherence

The app: Healthera, free

What it does: Developed by three Cambridge-graduate entrepreneurs, the Healthera app is a smart medicine diary for patients which analyses their medicine-taking pattern, records their concerns and helps them gain their pharmacist or doctor’s attention when irregular medicine-taking occurs. It interprets the medicine’s name and instructions found on prescription labels into a schedule, then turns it into a QR code that is printed on the label, allowing patients to add the schedule to their phone’s calendar.

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Medical assessment

The app: Ada – your health companion, free or £18.99 for an Ada Doctor Chat

What it does: Ada is an AI powered medical assessment engine available via the Ada Personal Health Companion App and online consultation platform, AdaPro. Ada uses a probability network and machine learning to deliver a differential and next step care advice for patients, as well as the option to connect to a doctor. It aims to address issues with over demand of GP consultations and inappropriate point of care interventions. Currently conducting a pilot at a NHS GP practice.

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GP/Practice assistance

The app: askmyGP

What it does: Programme of change within GP practices and software enabling patients to seek help online. Thoroughly proven with over 120 practices launched, with a body of evidence and papers over six years. By abolishing the old system and starting the new (week 4 of the 12-week plan) performance multiplies – patients get help within minutes, GPs feel in control of their workload

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The app: eConsult

What it does: eConsult is a platform that allows patients to consult with their own NHS GP simply by completing a quick online form. It helps GPs to deliver better access to registered NHS patients by providing a round-the-clock portal where patients can enter their symptoms and receive instant self-help advice, together with signposting to NHS 111, pharmacies and other healthcare services. It aims to make consultation times quicker and provide a cost saving to surgeries.

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The app: iPLATO/Patient Care Messaging

What it does: iPLATO offers a number of helpful solutions that your surgery can use to improve QoF targets, meet CCG goals and assist your practice in bringing better care for your patients. One tool is PCM or Patient Care Messaging, which enables easy-to-use and schedule text messaging to patients.

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Doctor consultations

The app: ZoomDoc, app is free, appointments start at £99 for a 25-minute consultation

What it does: ZoomDoc aims to remove barriers between GPs and patients by offering a 24/7 UK-wide ‘GP on Demand’ service. After registering with the service via the smartphone app, patients can choose a local GP to visit them. Patients initially receive a phone consultation from a GP within 60 seconds and then, if required, a home visit within 60 minutes.

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The app: Now GP

What it does: Now Healthcare’s products, such as the Now GP/Dr Now mobile app, allow users to have on-the-go video consultations with qualified and certified doctors on their smartphone. Users can be diagnosed and have their medicines delivered to their home or office the next day or in as little as two hours in some locations directly from these consultations.

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The app: Push Doctor

What it does: Push Doctor is resolving the UK healthcare access issue through its marketplace where consumers experience an on-demand mobile appointment with a doctor. It is a CQC registered and regulated platform delivering consultations live with UK NHS Doctors over secure video. Includes prescriptions, fit notes and referral letters accepted by insurers. Push Doctor is proud to be an NHS commissioned technology provider.

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Ten of the health apps featured on this page were first covered here on Pharmafield and in Pf Magazine.

If you have a new mobile app and want to educate healthcare practitioners or patients on its use, and how it can help patients, E4H can assist. You can contact us here.