Apps for physicians and patients

Some of the apps in this issue’s Tech Notes are great for both sets of users.

By Iltifat Husain, M.D. | Fall 2019 | Tech Notes

 

In this edition of Tech Notes, the apps I cover are geared more toward the geriatric patient population. Two of the apps featured in this column are from large government agencies, and both have done a fantastic job leveraging their resources to create slick apps that will help their patient populations.

Price: Free. iPhone, iPad: apple.co/2N4YAGn Android: Not available.

The Frailty App

Even those not in medicine know that people age differently. Everyone has their example of an 85-year-old patient who can run circles around a 65-year-old. So when you’re trying to assess a patient’s vulnerability to poor outcomes or ability to thrive, you can’t just use a patient’s age. There are now several frailty assessment tools that exist, and we’ve even highlighted them before in Tech Notes.

This particular app and protocol are from a group of Canadian providers in Halifax who have pioneered what they call the Palliative and Therapeutic Harmonization (PATH) assessment. The app they have released, called The Frailty App, can be used not only by providers, but also by family and friends.

Overall, I’m impressed by the types of questions in the algorithm for PATH’s frailty assessment tool. These questions touched on cognitive questions, social and interpersonal questions, physical ability questions and more. They did not just focus on the patient’s functional ability.

Antidepressant Proposer

Price: Free. iPhone, iPad: apple.co/2J4D1jO Android: Not available.

The Antidepressant Proposer app was created by Theodore Huzyk, M.D., a psychiatry resident from the University of Southern California, to help those prescribing gain a better familiarity with antidepressants. Huzyk makes it clear the tool is for educational purposes, and not meant to be an authoritative clinical decision-making tool.

Antidepressant Proposer assigns scores for 32 different antidepressants based on 20 different commonly encountered patient factors and drug measures.

When you open the app, you are given three screens: side effects, special populations and Cipriani 2018 measures. Within the side effects section, you are given options such as anticholinergic, drowsiness and more. You can toggle to desire or avoid.

In this way, the app combines patient factors and drug side effects with results from medical literature to create a unique list of drug options based on your inputs. Once you have answered all the questions, the list of drug options are presented in a ranked fashion.

Medicare: What’s Covered 

Price: Free. iPhone, iPad: apple.co/2KFAuzK Android: bit.ly/2NeBFIQ

Medicare: What’s Covered is the official Medicare app from the United States government to help you understand the health coverage offered by Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance).

Kudos to the development team; the Medicare app is slick, easy to use and packed with information.

Some of the key questions this app can help answer are: How much will I pay for prescription drugs included in Medicare Part B coverage? Does the part B deductible apply to cardiac rebab? What percent of the Medicare approved amount will I need to pay for colorectal cancer screening?

Notably though, there are key things the application does not cover, such as information on Medicare Advantage Plans, Medigap, and other Medicare health plans.

The most glaring omission was that CPT code searches and reimbursements are not covered at all.

Overall, this is a fantastic app to further understand what Medicare covers, especially when it comes to preventive services.

NHS 24 MSK Help

Price: Free. iPhone, iPad: apple.co/2X41RFm Android: bit.ly/2X3b7K5

NHS 24 MSK, from the National Health Service in the U.K., provides quality videos and materials to help patients with musculoskeletal conditions. The app includes several MSK conditions commonly seen in primary care, urgent care and emergency medicine settings.

When you open the app, you are presented with three buttons: exercises, self help and reminders. The exercises section is where a bulk of the time is spent, and where the app truly shines.

For example, click on the neck section to find exercises and videos for how to help whiplash.

This is one of those apps that can be used by both providers and patients. Providers can use it to review and educate their patients on the different types of physical therapy exercises their patients can do at home. Patients can use the calculators and questionnaires to create custom therapies. There is even a calendar section that patients can use to remind themselves to do their exercises, take their medication and keep track of their appointments. 

 

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