Health Apps Might Not Be so Hot

Some of the top-rated health apps aimed at people with chronic medical problems don’t do a very good job of actually helping to manage those conditions, a recent study suggests.

Doctors reviewed 137 of the most highly rated or commonly recommended apps available for Apple’s iPhone and handsets running Google’s Android software that target people with high health costs or substantial medical needs. Often, though, the doctors gave these popular apps poor marks.
Approximately half of all Americans are living with at least one chronic medical problem such as heart disease, diabetes or asthma, researchers note in the journal Health Affairs, online December 5th.
or the current study, researchers evaluated apps targeted at people who live with asthma, arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, lung disease, liver disease, kidney disease, heart failure or addiction to drugs, alcohol or tobacco. They also looked at apps for people who have survived a stroke, battled cancer, been diagnosed with memory loss or dementia, are obese or are living with pain.

Many of the more than 165,000 health apps available aim to help people track their condition day-to-day, stay on track with medication or at-home testing, share information electronically with their care teams and get education and encouragement between doctor appointments.

Nearly all the apps in the study let people enter information into their phone about their health that day, such as a daily blood sugar or blood pressure level or whether they were feeling suicidal.

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