What Can Apps Do For Health?

By MedTech Intelligence Staff

Apps are being successfully used in the field of individual, community-related and company prevention – even if is only to help employees leading healthy lives for example. But which apps are actually worth recommending in the field of health? How good are these apps and what constitutes a good app?

“M-health and Prevention” will be the topic in Forum 2 on November 13 at 11:00 am (hall 15), showing how apps can be used to increase the likelihood of taking medication regularly by generating reminders. However, apps are also being successfully used in the field of individual, community-related and company prevention – even if is only to help employees leading healthy lives for example. But which apps are actually worth recommending in the field of health? How good are the apps for our smartphones and tablet PCs when it comes to health? What constitutes a good mini application in this field? Those are questions experts will discuss at the MEDICA’s HEALTH IT FORUM to be held November 12 – 15, 2014 in Düsseldorf, Germany.

According to Dr. phil. Holger Mühlan, Chair of Health and Prevention at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University in Greifswald (Germany), there are a variety of criteria for this, but (still) no binding standards. However, at the John Hopkins University in Washington, a database of evidence is continuously updated. In addition, Dr. Mühlan makes reference to an important English review by Caroline Free et al., that comes to the conclusion that the use of mobile technologies, such as SMS reminders, are moderately beneficial (PLOS Medicine, 2013 Vol. 10 (1) e1001363, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001363).

In the German-speaking region, there are already web portals and initiatives such as http://www.healthon.de about this issue. MEDICA 2014 will also deal with apps that could help improve the care of hospital patients. The topic “ISV – Information Scarcely Visible?” will be addressed at the ENTSCHEIDERFABRIK (within the scope of the 37th German Hospital Conference). In fact, mobile units are supposed to make data that are already being stored in hospital information systems more readily available.

“During everyday routine however, it is often the case that physicians and nurses have had to click a lot of times in order to retrieve information,” said Lars Forchheim, Head of the IT department at Edia.con. Touchscreens are already being used to display a full range of information from hospital information systems. Of course, this full range of information often entails too much information because generally, a chief physician requires a different set of information than a nurse. An iPad app should make this easier. The app is configured in such a way that the users only see what they actually need. There should be one app for many professional groups, but with its own individual settings for each occupational sector involved.

App for more cost effectiveness

As an example, Lars Forchheim mentions a “DRG system” that analyzes patients’ lengths of stay. It determines the maximum length of stay until a standard fee is applied. On an individual basis, if this duration is exceeded, the hospital receives additional compensation from insurance companies. If this happens several times, it is deemed uneconomical. The signal light on the app shows green if the maximum length of stay has not yet been reached and turns yellow when the time has been reached. It then switches to red when the maximum length of stay has been exceeded.

The physician or occupational therapist, for example, continues to decide freely on how long the patient should stay in hospital. However, he/she makes his/her decisions based on the knowledge of the length of stay and its economic consequences.

The app will comprise 20 to 30 parameters, of which only eight are relevant for the respective occupational group. For example, initial experiences have shown that invoices can be generated more quickly. The product has the potential to make work and operational procedures easier for both doctors and nurses. The first version is likely to be presented at MEDICA 2014.

MEDICA App competition

The MEDICA App Competition will be about apps which, for example, help to improve processing at hospitals or to increase the safety of patients. For the third time, a live competition will be held for the best app used in the daily routine of doctors and hospitals. App developers from around the world can submit their apps until October 2014. These submissions are preselected by the MEDICA expert team and ten developer teams will be able to qualify for participation at the live event taking place at MEDICA 2014. On the stage in hall 15, all medical apps nominated will be presented on November 13, with a top-class jury selecting the winner. More information is available athttp://www.medica.de/app_competition1.

The “eHeath Venture Summit & Innovation Award” (November 14, from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm) is new at this year’s MEDICA and especially interesting for young companies in the field of Heath IT. This award offers medical intervention start-ups the possibility to face the critical assessment of a committee consisting of internationally renowned clinical and economic experts, thereby establishing contact to potential investors. Within the scope of the MEDICA HEALTH IT FORUM, the final participants will meet the experts personally in order to discuss the value of their idea and obtain important advice and support. Further information is online at http://evs.curemyway.com.

Information about MEDICA 2014 exhibitors, product information, company news and the accompanying conferences and forum programs (for example MEDICA HEALTH IT FORUM and MEDICA CONNECTED HEALTH FORUM), are available at http://www.medica-tradefair.com.

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