In my opinion, one of the best things about smartphones is the plethora of mobile health apps available in the app market to download. I think it’s fantastic that there’s so many ways we can take control of our own health, or monitor our health status with our phones to share with our health care providers. Did you know that in an emergency your health data from your mobile health apps in apple health can be accessed from your lock screen? Digital health is an important part of our own patient care and there’s literally a mobile health app for just about everything health related you can think of! I did a search for health apps in the app store and I found apps that will help you: quit smoking, relax/meditate, find allergy friendly restaurants, interpret the ingredients in food products, and apps that will help track your: sleep, calories, macros, workouts, blood sugar levels, heart rate etc.
When I got my first smartphone over 5 years ago my husband and I were considering expanding our family, so naturally the first mobile health app I downloaded was Period Tracker. While obviously the results from that download was great (her name is Amber and she’s now an amazing 5 yr old), not all the health apps out there are created equal, some are amazing, while others quite truthfully downright suck.
So from my own trial and error, here are some tips to use that will help you choose the best mobile health apps:
Tip #1 – Make a list of the health metrics you want to track
The health apps you choose to add to your phone should closely match your health goals. Do you want to sleep better? Lose weight? Take control of anxiety? Find out when you’re the most fertile? There’s quite literally a mobile health app for any health metric you can think of. Once you know what your goals are you can begin searching with the rest of the tips below.
Tip #2 – Ask around on social media for suggestions
Crowd sourcing is my favourite way to find great apps. I ask around on Twitter, in chat groups, and even on facebook. Chances are someone has already tried out several apps related to your goals and have found one they like already.
Tip #3 – Search for multiple search terms related to your health goals in the app market
Once you’ve figured out your health goals the best way to find apps that will help you is to try searching with multiple terms or keywords related to that goal. For example, if you want to quit smoking you could search for “quit smoking”, “stop smoking”, “smoking cessation” etc.
Tip #4 – Research the apps
Once you’ve found some apps related to your goals research them, and research the app developer. Search for unbiased reviews of the apps, review the scientific literature, and even look for reviews by doctors.. What have other users rated the app? What reviews have other users left? There have been many apps I have chosen not to download simply because although the star rating was high, the actual written reviews were horrendous.
Tip #5 – Be persistent and pilot the apps
Trying out several apps at the same time can help you to truly find the right app for you. There’s often very little logic to it, but when it comes to searching, persistence pays.
In this day and age digital health tools such as mobile health apps can be very beneficial to you and your family. They can help your primary care physician in providing care to you. If you record things like what you eat, how active you are, how long you sleep etc. your doctor can help diagnose or rule out things that could be affecting your health. As I mentioned earlier, even in an emergency your health data can be accessed from your lock screen. Hopefully these tips will help you as you search for, and choose the best mobile health apps for you!
To raise awareness about digital health and the benefits of digital health to Canadian families, November 16th – 22nd will be Digital Health Week. Patients, governments, health care associations and clinicians are working together to make our care better, today, with digital health. From November 16-22, 2015, think digital health and discover how digital health is making a difference for you and your families.
You can take part by:
- Joining an online event
- Sharing an image on the Better Health Togother Facebook page or on Twitter using hashtag #thinkdigitalhealth about what digital health means to you
- Posting a selfie (team or individual) with the hashtag #thinkdigitalhealth to show the many different faces behind digital health
- Uploading a Digital Health Week badge to your social media profile image to show your support, or
- Spreading the word to your friends, family and colleagues
What are your favourite mobile health apps?
Share your apps in the comments below and visit the Better Health Together website to learn more about digital health!
Although this post has been generously sponsored by Canada Health Infoway, the opinions and language are my own.