Earlier this year, Parentology published an article on whether parents should use apps for medical diagnoses. In that article, doctors weighed in to discuss the potential perks and dangers. There seemed to be a general consensus that safe use depended on whether or not patients turned to the best medical apps. However, the problem is identifying apps that are safe, reputable and effective.
How To Spot the Best Apps
Using medical apps may require a bit more vetting than just picking the one with the highest user review score. For instance, it’s best to rely on those approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Dr. Ceppie Merry is a physician who also writes reviews fo medical journals. She tells Parentology there are many things to take into consideration in terms of medical apps, from quality and reliability to whether the app is regularly updated. “For these reasons, I only recommend apps that are linked to reputable medical sites, such as those through universities, government agencies, international organizations and medical sites.”
Dr. David Clarke, assistant director for ethics at Oregon Health and Science University, takes this a step further. “I recommend looking at the quality of their medical/scientific advisors,” he tells Parentology. “Do they have an MD or PhD? What’s their experience in relevant fields? Are they affiliated with recognizable institutions, or have clinicians at those institutions endorsed the app?”
Apps That Meet These Criteria
With this advice as a framework, patients may create a shortlist of apps meeting their needs. Speaking directly with your personal physician, too, to see if there are any medical apps they contribute to or recommend.
Here are a few that meet one or more of the criteria provided above:
Mayo Clinic for General Information
Mayo Clinic is a trusted resource for global publications that report on medical conditions. US News & World Report recognized the clinic as the best hospital in America. More than 4,500 scientists and doctors lend credibility to the platform.
WebMD for General Information
Another frequently used and reputable online resource in the health sciences is WebMD. It has its own app platform, known as Medscape, that reportedly provides information for patients and health professionals.
Curable for Chronic Pain
Clarke says, “An app in my field that I recommend is Curable. [It] uses evidence-based methods to treat chronic pain and other symptoms that aren’t caused by organ disease or structural abnormalities.”
Ada for UTIs
This app received FDA clearance to test for urinary tract infections in the comfort of your home. It uses the same kind of paper test trips doctors rely on in labs and emergency rooms.
The Bottom Line
Most of the apps discussed here don’t actively diagnose patients, but rather provide information. If you or your loved one is ill, please seek medical attention from a licensed practitioner.