7 mobile apps for chronic condition management

By Julie Bird

In a report released last May, the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution's Center for Technology Innovation said more than 40,000 mobile health applications are available across multiple platforms, including more than 12,000 at the Apple iTunes store alone. While fitness apps represent a big chunk of available healthcare apps on the market, an increasing number are designed to help consumers identify chronic conditions, track symptoms and better manage their diseases.

And with the number of Americans living with chronic disease expected to reach 157 million by 2020, according to research from RAND, the market for mobile health apps to help patients manage such diseases is large and growing.

Diabetics represent the biggest market for mobile health apps over the next five years, according to mobile research firm research2guidance, followed by obesity, hypertension, coronary disease, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

With that in mind, FierceMobileHealthcare is highlighting seven mobile applications targeting chronic disease management. Check out our slideshow to learn more.

The iPhone and Android app from iSonea Ltd. provides reminders to take medications or test breathing, with customizable reminder tones for one or more users. Use the app to record asthma symptoms and up to a month of peak flow measurements, and to automatically call for help during an attack. Based on information recorded, AsthmaSense issues status alerts when asthma is “not well controlled” or “poorly controlled” based on National Institutes of Health guidelines.

This free iPhone app from Janssen Biotech Inc., which develops products and treatments for chronic health conditions, is a tool for logging food consumption and tracking disease symptoms such as pain and fatigue on the go. Users can rate the level of their pain, fatigue and stress and see historical trends highlighted in graph format. Patients can share the visual readout with their doctors to aid in development of treatment regimens.

The most downloaded diabetes-management app in the iPhone store, Glucose Buddy from SkyHealth includes charts for logging blood-glucose levels, medications, food and exercise. The free app graphically displays log information in graphs, includes an a1c calculator and provides push notifications.

The free Healthy Heart app from Ringful Health, available for iPhone and Blackberry, provides a journal for logging cardiac treatment including medications. The information is analyzed to help users understand personal triggers for high blood pressure and the effectiveness of treatment and medications, among other factors. Data are analyzed in graph format.

This mobile app, available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices, helps people with kidney disease or renal failure manage their disease by tracking their consumption of sodium, protein, phosphorous and potassium. Users can scroll through a list of foods to find their nutritional value or type in the food item. It also includes a food diary. The app, developed by Pain Free Living Inc., was named a Top 10 health app by Yahoo News, and an Editor’s Pick by Appcraver.com.

The free SmartBP app is developed by Evolve Medical Systems for iPhone; an Android version is being developed. Users enter systolic and diastolic blood pressure, weight and pulse to get BMI, mean arterial pressure and pulse pressure calculations. Progress in managing blood pressure is tracked over time, and users can share the information with their doctor. The app can sync with Microsoft’s HealthVault app.

The free new iPhone app for chronic-pain sufferers includes a journal for logging pain levels, setting goals and identifying possible triggers, eventually helping users better manage and track pain, WebMD says. The patient can share the journal with his or her physician. Patients can customize goals, or select among physician-reviewed tips and goals related to food, rest, exercise mood and treatments. Tools and resources are geared toward those with chronic back pain, neck pain, nerve pain, fibromyalgia, migraines, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.