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On the Doctor's orders: Prescribed smartphone apps

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Mobile technology is expanding as a tool used by both patients and physicians.

Have you ever gone to the doctor's, feeling unwell, just to feel disgruntled when they send you off with the command to take some painkillers and rest? As a generalization, many people often expect to be given 'something' for their pains of visiting a doctor.

What if your physician prescribed you a mobile app instead?

The UK government has pledged to encourage physicians in England to promote the use of mobile technology to help patients manage a variety of conditions, from diabetes to depression.

After a public appeal for new ideas and recommendations for mobile applications that can be implemented to manage existing conditions, the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, has subsequentially compiled a list of almost 500 tools that will be recommended to patients under the national health system (NHS).

General Practitioners will be asked to recommend inexpensive mobile option to patients in an effort to cut down hospital visits, encourage self-reliance and condition control, and potentially to improve a patient's knowledge of their illnesses.

Applications on offer include types that monitor sugar levels and allow barcode scans for diabetes sufferers, the NHS choices app which can be used for advice, and various tools to cope with stress or regulate blood pressure levels. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

"So many people use apps every day to keep up with their friends, with the news, find out when the next bus will turn up or which train to catch. I want to make using apps to track blood pressure, to find the nearest source of support when you need it and to get practical help in staying healthy the norm.

With more information at their fingertips, patients can truly be in the driving seat."

However, it is not only patients that can take advantage of mobile technology. GE Healthcare and AirStrip Technologies announced today the release of AirStrip Patient Monitoring, an app that allows secure access to patient measurements by iPhone or iPad. It is now available for purchase by U.S. hospitals.

The app allows doctors to access and manipulate clinical measurements including cardiac data, blood pressure, temperature and respiratory information in real-time.

"The mobile technology platform at the heart of the system can revolutionize the way healthcare is delivered by decentralizing secure, actionable patient information and making it accessible virtually anytime, anywhere," said Cameron Powell, M.D., President and Chief Medical Officer of AirStrip.

"AirStrip Patient Monitoring unites a strong user experience with the ability for clinicians to make faster, more informed treatment decisions via their mobile device, which can then improve patient care and overall workflow in ways that doctors are already embracing."

Image credit: Johan Larsson

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With more information at their fingertips, patients can truly be in the driving seat."

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure