If the app fits
Apps are used by millions to monitor their bodies, habits and health – here’s our high 10.
A study has revealed that patients with advanced breast or lung cancer who entered symptoms into a smartphone app lived over five months longer than expected. The trial of 766 patients found that those who updated doctors about pain levels in real time missed fewer chemotherapy sessions and were more active. Health apps have become a pivotal part of the self-care revolution, with millions being downloaded every day. Here are 10 of the best.
Thrive Feel Stress Free, free (in app purchases available)
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 in stressful situations. It also features a ‘thought trainer’ programme based on cognitive behavioural therapy techniques.
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.
TYPE 1 DIABETES
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.
myCOPD, free as an NHS service in some areas or a £20 lifetime licence.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ask the Midwife, from 99p for one question to a £24.99 per month subscription
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.
ZoomDoc, app is free, appointments start at £99 for a 25-minute consultation
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.
Predictive calculator to help HCPs identify patients at risk of liver disease
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.