Mobile health apps to manage health; Why we like it when others fall, or fail.


Mobile health apps such as Asthmapolis can help users track symptoms. (Asthmapolis)
August 12, 2013
Asthmapolis, Allayo, Mango Health, Sleep Cycle

From managing asthma and measuring heart rates to scheduling lab work and ordering prescriptions, new smartphone apps and mobile devices aim to make taking care of one’s health a bit easier.

Asthmapolis (currently available through a free beta program) is designed to help people with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease track when and where their symptoms are occurring. It uses a sensor that sits on top of an inhaler and tracks when and where the inhaler is used. The data, transmitted via Bluetooth to a user’s smartphone, may help patients figure out what is triggering asthma attacks.

Allayo (free) is a smartphone and desktop app that attempts to make an individual’s health-care plan more organized. Users create a private account containing information about their insurance plans and health providers. They can then set up tasks they want the app to perform, such as sending reminders about medical appointments and such healthful habits as going to the gym and drinking more water. Users can also use the app to place a prescription refill, arrange home delivery of medications and help handle insurance claims. Users can also speak by phone with certified medical assistants if additional guidance is needed.

Mango Health (free) helps users keep track of medications and supplements by entering information about the meds they take as well as when they should be taken. The app, available for the iPhone, then sends a reminder at the appropriate time. The app provides information about such things as dangerous drug interactions, and it tracks the user’s dosage history, a useful tool for people who may forget whether they’ve taken their meds. The app also tries to make the medication experience something of a game by offering rewards to people who stay on track. By telling the app that they took their medication, users earn points redeemable for items such as gift cards from Target and for charity donations.

Sleep Cycle ($0.99) bills itself as a “bio-alarm clock” that analyzes sleep patterns and wakes the user when he or she is in the lightest sleep phase. Users set a 30-minute window within which they would like to wake up, then go to sleep with their phone in bed with them. The app picks up the body’s movement patterns and sets off an alarm when it registers the lightest sleep phase within the wake-up window. The app’s creators say that this is the key to waking up feeling rested and relaxed.

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