While many iPhone apps are just for fun or wasting time, there is one that is actually saving lives.
The ECG Check app analyzes a patient’s heart rhythms and sends the information to his or her cardiologist.
The ECG Check app was created by Cardiac Designs in Park City, Utah.
"[Apps] engage the patient more closely with their own health care,” Murray Aitken, of the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, told Bloomberg News. “When we talk to physicians that’s the No. 1 benefit of apps. Ultimately it’s about improving outcomes.”
“Apps can be health care in your hand,” added Aitken. “We’re not there yet but we expect we will be in five years.”
So far, health care apps are not taking off with the public as hoped.
The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics researched over 40,000 health apps in the Apple iTunes store for an Oct. 30 report.
According to Time magazine:
Only 16,275 health apps are directly related to patient health and treatment, meaning that they provide some type of advice and treatment guidance. The rest are spewing forth data that neither doctors nor consumers can use to improve their well being. And there is no effective way for users to evaluate the apps or rate them on how well they deliver on their promise of weight loss or ability to improve stress and mental health.
IMS reports that only about 5 percent of health care apps make up 15 percent of all health care-related tech downloads and 50 percent of the health care apps get less than 500 downloads by users.
More discouraging news is that more than 90 percent of apps got a score of 40 or less for functionality.
Many doctors are reluctant to recommend apps because they are not up on the latest technology and are not convinced that they work.
One of the more successful apps is Fooducate, which tells users via the food product's bar code whether their food rates an A through D based on factors such as nutrients and ingredients.
Fooducate, which is free, was chosen by Apple as the best new health app in 2011 and was awarded first place in a 2012 healthy app contest by the Surgeon General.