Under what circumstances will clinicians want to prescribe apps, and what would make it easier for them to do so?
Apps, like pharmaceuticals, can in principle help patients and families meet their healthcare goals. Many would like clinicians to embrace apps and begin recommending them to their patients. It would be easy for clinicians to end up making the same mistakes with apps as we’ve often made with the prescription of medications: recommendations based on marketing rather than more considered assessments of expected value, and prescription of apps for every little medical condition rather than choosing a few high-yield apps based on a whole-person approach to managing healthcare. To ensure more thoughtful recommending of apps, especially for medically complex patients, we could consider strategies that can be helpful in managing multiple medications. These include reviewing the use of a proposed app within the context of the patient’s overall health issues and goals of care, being explicit about the purpose of the app and expected benefit, and periodically reviewing and adjusting app use. The recommendation of apps for every single medical diagnosis affecting an older person could easily lead to app overload, and should be avoided.
The eHealth Initiative (eHI), a non-profit organization whose mission is to drive improvement in the quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare through information and technology, has unveiled its first-ever Health IT Cancer Resources Guide, a comprehensive overview of the digital tools and technologies available today that help patients and their families, caregivers and support networks understand, treat and cope with cancer.
The guide lists 76 tools ranging from mobile applications to web sites to social networks that aim to improve cancer care. It was developed by eHI’s National Council on Cancer and Technology, which included representatives from American Cancer Society and American Society of Clinical Oncologists, and is organized in five sections: decision making, education, treatment management, social support and lifestyle management.
eHI developed the guide based on the findings of the Issue Brief on eHealth Tools and Cancer Care, a review of 124 articles, which examined how telemedicine, mobile health, internet-based technologies and social media are being used in cancer care today. The issue brief highlighted the meaningful impact eHealth tools have on care including the removal of geographic barriers, enhanced decision-making capabilities and improved patient-provider communication.
To view the full Health IT Cancer Resource Guide click here.
According to the report, just under two-thirds (64%) of healthcare providers acknowledged that mobile technologies offer potential benefits for patients, but feel that mobile health (also known as mhealth) is virgin and untested territory. As a result, the majority of doctors (73%) don’t suggest iOS or mobile health apps to their patients and some (13%) even discourage patients from using them.