Two of the best medical apps of 2016 (and one just for fun)

This issue’s app reviews include a prescription saver, a daily aspirin decision tool and a vein seeker not yet ready for clinical use.

By Iltifat Husain, M.D., founder of iMedicalApps.com | Tech Notes | Winter 2017

 

In this edition of Tech Notes, we’ll cover GoodRx’s new app for physicians; a critical app for primary care physicians related to daily aspirin use; and an app that helps you see veins using just your iPhone’s camera. Each of these medical apps is free to download and easy to use.

Aspirin Guide Simplifies the aspirin decision-making process

Aspirin Guide

Price: Free iTunes: http://apple.co/2emt84s Android: play.google.com

For any physician or provider who has to determine whether or not to start a patient on daily aspirin for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, Aspirin Guide is the most important app you will use.

It’s one of the best medical apps released in 2016 and is a must-have for primary care physicians and cardiologists. It’s from researchers at Harvard Medical School and helps health providers decide which patients are candidates for the use of low-dose aspirin.

The decision to start patients on aspirin is much easier for secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease; it gets complicated when it comes to primary prevention due to the consequences that can arise, such as serious bleeding events.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) gives various grades of recommendation for use of aspirin in primary prevention for cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer. The determination isn’t based just on age, but also various medical calculators the USPSTF wants providers to use.

Aspirin Guide simplifies the decision-making process. The app can be used at the point of care with patients. It does all the backend work of calculating risk scores based on your various inputs. Aspirin Guide also can email the results to your patients so that they can see why there was a decision to start on daily aspirin or not.

The app is available for iPhones and Android and is available as a web app as well.

Key ways to use this app. Use this app to determine if your patients should be on daily aspirin use for primary prevention of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). Use it to calculate 10-year cardiovascular disease risk score, and use it to email a summary of the decision-making process.

GoodRx For Doctors Helps your patients save money on prescriptions

GoodRx

Price: Free iTunes: http://apple.co/2fAFjby Android: http://bit.ly/2fodKS9

GoodRx has been one of the most downloaded medical apps in the App Store for the last few years. It provides coupons for prescription medications and can help patients save money on prescription drugs.

Patients or physicians are able to input a particular drug and dosing and then get a list of pharmacies that offer the lowest price.

GoodRx is particularly useful for patients who do not have insurance, but it can also help those who have insurance save on prescription drugs.

For example, clindamycin can cost my patients paying out of pocket more than $60, but using GoodRx, I can get them the prescription for less than $15.

GoodRx partners with a pharmacy benefit manger (PBM) in order to get lower prices of prescription medications. PBMs are able to negotiate discounts with pharmacies, and they earn a transaction fee for sending customers to a pharmacy.

GoodRx recently released a physician-centric version of their app, GoodRx For Doctors. The app makes GoodRx much easier to use with patients. In the past, I would have had to use GoodRx on a desktop, search for a drug, and print out the coupon for my patient. With GoodRx For Doctors, I’m able to save my favorite prescriptions more easily, and I can easily send my patients a text or email of the coupon right from my phone. When the patient gets the coupon via text on their phone or in their email, it doesn’t convey my personal information.

Key ways to use this app. Use this app if you have patients without insurance or the drug isn’t on the $4 Walmart list. It’s best for patients who have smartphones (otherwise, just print the actual coupon for your patient in clinic). Use this app to look up information on the drug prescribing; there is a decent drug monograph available.

VeinSeek Identifies vein location with an iPhone

Vein Seek

Price: Free iTunes: http://apple.co/2fobTfY Android: Not available

Unlike the other two serious apps mentioned for clinicians, VeinSeek is a fun app that only health professionals will get a kick out of. It’s important to note this app should not be used for medical purposes or on any patients.

VeinSeek is a live video processing app that uses your iPhone’s camera and layers of algorithms to show veins on your arm. “Vein seeking” devices have been around for awhile—they use infrared light to show veins. But VeinSeek doesn’t require any add-ons or attachments; it simply uses algorithms to help distinguish veins.

This app is nowhere near ready for primetime, but it shows the power of what a smartphone camera can do when connected to smart software.

Key ways to use this app. As mentioned, you definitely can’t use this app for any type of patient care or any type of medical treatment. But it’s a good proof of concept and an example of how live video processing apps have potential to be used in the medical setting in the future.

Iltifat Husain, M.D., is the editor in chief and founder of iMedicalApps.com, the leading physician publication on digital medicine, and an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

 

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