More doctors "prescribing" apps to patients

- Smartphone apps are now being prescribed to patients. Doctors are taking advantage of some great apps that can help patients manage their medical conditions and feed them real-time data in between visits, but some doctors warn patients apps should not replace professional advice.

There are thousands of apps already available to manage your health. Some hospitals have apps as well, like Orlando Health.

“I think it’s the future. It’s really going to change the way we monitor our patients,” said Dr. Jamin Brahmbhatt with Orlando Health.

Some doctors want their patients to be engaged outside of the clinics, so instead of grabbing your typical pamphlets, they’re asking them to download some apps so they can track their symptoms.

Dr. Brahmbhatt said this technology is a great way to be integrated into patients’ daily routines. “You have more qualitative data to look at rather than what the patient is saying in the office,” said Dr. Brahmbhatt.

David Kaminski uses 7 apps to monitor his health. Since he’s had a kidney transplant, he’s more conscious of his health. “The value of apps is allowing you to be part of your health decisions; be proactive about your health,” said Kaminski.

His general practitioner Dr. Benjamin Kaplan said “health apps” help patients feel more control of their health.

“10 years ago I think medicine was much more of a patriarchal type profession where the doctor says this and you must do that. Here patients are engaged, there’s a dialogue about their health and I think patients appreciate that,” said Kaminski’s physician Dr. Kaplan.

But which apps are the right ones and how accurate are these “doctor prescribed apps?"

“What patients need to know is that it doesn’t substitute for advice from a health care professional. A lot of these apps, actually the majority of these apps are not FDA regulated,” said Dr. Brahmbhatt. “The second problem is privacy. Some of these apps may not be HIPPA compliant: who’s looking at your information? Who’s sharing your information, is critical.”

So while you're scrolling through your phone to find the right app Dr. Brahmbhatt recommends you try free versions first, do a little research, and be careful what you post.

Researchers are also conducting clinical trials to test apps that help patients manage their symptoms, send reminders and instructions, and alert love ones before there’s a crisis. For example someone’s blood sugar could be low and the app can alert family if they need help. Researchers believe this may help reduce expensive emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

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