Soon, your very own doctor will probably pop out of your cell phone on command. Short of that, increasing numbers of cell phone health apps can help boost, protect or manage your health. Here are few that caught our eye.
GlassesOff. Want to shed your reading glasses? A new health app, GlassesOff, expected to be available on iPhone/iPad by late 2012, may help you do just that. The application is actually a trainer offering three 15-minute sessions a week for two to three months to retrain the brain—not the eyes—to perceive images with better focus. “On average, people improve almost three lines on a standard vision chart,” says Dr. Uri Polat, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Ucansi, Inc., the company that developed GlassesOff. To maintain improvement, users take a brush-up session every other week.
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iCelsius BBQ. Worried about the bacterial dangers of undercooked meat? Now, you don’t have to be, says Ashok Sabata, president and founder of Aginova, a sensor technology company in Mason, Ohio. iCelsius BBQ, a health app for the iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, comes with a temperature probe that plugs into your cell phone. Insert the probe into meat, and you get an instant temperature reading and graph. “If you want steak medium well, set the temperature limit to 154 degrees, and iCelsius will start beeping when the steak’s center reaches that temperature,” Sabata says.
DiabetesManager. Developed by WellDoc, a Baltimore healthcare company, this cell phone application allows patients to input blood sugar readings and send them to the WellDoc server. “So, you get instant feedback,” says Dr. Richard Katz, director of the Division of Cardiology at George Washington University Medical Center, who helped test the program. “It may say, ‘Your blood sugar is high. Call the doctor.’” A WellDoc case manager also screens readings. In a study of 32 patients, those who used the program cut hospital and ER visits in half over one year. The company is just beginning to offer the program to medical systems, which will in turn offer it to patients.
AsthmaMD. This free iPhone application allows asthma sufferers to create a personal health diary to track asthma attacks, medications, triggers and symptoms. And users can forward the record to their doctor. If users agree, the program also sends their unidentified data to AsthmaMD servers to help researchers track locations where asthma is most severe. “In the future,we’ll be able to notify users if they are entering an area where they might have problems,” says Dr. Sam Pejham, co-creator of the app.
LIVESTRONG MyQuit Coach. This $3.99 iPhone app allows you to create a customized plan to quit smoking: You can go cold turkey or cut back gradually. The app also offers tips, reminders, and progress charts. “If you have a simple program that sends five messages a day reminding you to quit, that can keep a person on track,” says smoking cessation expert Dr. Jonathan Foulds, a professor at Penn State University College of Medicine, who reviewed the MyQuit program.