There’s a health app for that

By • Published: June 4th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Could the right app keep you out of the emergency room or doctor’s office?

It’s a theory doctors in England are about to test. Soon, general practitioners in Great Britain will start prescribing free smartphone apps to their patients to help them manage their health conditions. The initiative is aimed at giving patients more control over their own health and save them unnecessary visits to the doctor.

In 2011, Great Britain’s Department of Health invited people to name their favorite health apps and received nearly 500 entries and more than 12,600 votes and comments.

And recently, Minister of Health Andrew Lansley announced a list of nearly 500 approved apps, which family doctors can now prescribe to their patients. One of these is a food allergy app that allows a person to scan bar codes on supermarket products to see if they contain dangerous ingredients.

Another app that has already been tried out by British physicians, nurses and hospitals is called Patients Know Best. It allows patients to get all their records from their clinicians and control who gets access to them. Patients can also use the app to have online consultations with a physician, get explanations of their results and work with their providers on a personalized care plan.

There’s also an app from the charity Diabetes U-K to help the nearly 3 million Britons with diabetes manage their condition better. Patients can enter their blood glucose, diet and insulin information into the app, which helps them adjust their eating accordingly.

Last year, an Imperial College London study found that a quarter of people who use health apps and the government’s health information website said they visited their general practitioner less frequently as a result.

Looks like an app a day could keep the doctor away.