Nursing is the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations.

Medical Apps for the iPhone

My assignment was to speak for 18 minutes (the standard talk length) about medical apps for the Apple iPhone. Sounds easy, right? Only one problem: there are about 7,000 medical apps.

After a lot of time reading "best medical apps" stories online, asking Twitter users for their suggestions and reading online reviews, I finally boiled the list down to about 50 promising apps. I tried them out and further winnowed the list to a bunch that I ultimately demo'ed in my talk. Eventually, the video of the talk will be posted at, but in the meantime, here's what I covered.

(I haven't really given them full-blown testing, so read the online reviews before you spend good money on them. Except for the free ones—you've got nothing to lose!)

* JetLag RX. You input your travel destination, your usual bedtime and so on. The app recommends a schedule for eating, sleeping and exposure to light in order to land in the new time zone with a minimum of jet lag, based on modern jet-lag research. (Not yet available in the iTunes app store; $10)
* Uhear. Clever, self-administered test for hearing loss. (Free)
* SoundAMP. Turns the iPhone into a hearing aid. Amplifies and processes voices to make them clearer. Even has a 30-second replay button that can save you from having to say "What?" so often. ($9.99)
* ProLoQuo2Go. I read about this one in The Times. It's a speech synthesizer for patients who have trouble speaking; you tap big fat icons to put sentences together. You can also save common phrases into a special Quick Set. For an app, the price is shockingly high. But its competition is an $8,000 PC-based system that's decidedly not mobile. ($190)

* Period Tracker, Period Tracker Companion. The title says it all. This little app helps women predict the onset of each month's period, and wirelessly syncs with the man's app (Companion) so that he can know exactly when "to be a little extra nice and special." (Lite version, free; Companion, $1)

* Lose It! This beautifully designed weight-loss app has an astounding number of followers, if the outpouring of enthusiasm on Twitter is any indication. You tap to record everything you eat. It's actually kind of fun, because the program contains every food item you can imagine, including brand-name packaged food and restaurant-chain menus. For each one, the app lists the complete nutritional information.

You also indicate what exercise you get each day, using a similarly complete list of activities. Finally, you tap in your weight each day. Probably because the app focuses you so well on staying true to your goals, its fans say it truly works. (Free)

* Eyeglasses. As an over-40-year-old, I've become addicted to this app. It simply turns the iPhone 3GS into a magnifying glass. Hold it in front of some tiny type—on a menu, a receipt, a ticket, a medicine bottle—and Eyeglasses, after a moment of autofocusing, shows you a magnified version of it on the screen. Keeping your hand steady is tough, and the 6X and 8X images sort of fall apart—but the 2X and 4X views have saved me more than once. ($3)

* Retina. It's for color-blind people like me. You hold it in front of something—clothes in your closet, for example—and it tells you by name what color you're seeing. I love this one more for the concept than the execution; it says black is "too dark" and white is "too bright," for example, and it really needs more differentiation between various *degrees* of red or whatever. Tinted room light (of the sort that requires white-balance adjustments on a camera) can flummox it. But as an early example of an "augmented reality" app, it's very exciting. (Free)


* OsiriX. An amazing viewer of medical images (X-rays, scans of all sort). Drag with one finger to adjust brightness or contrast. Zoom in, rotate. Special modes let you measure some element (tumor, fracture, etc.) with either a circle or a line that you draw with two fingers. Syncs with a special image server at the hospital. ($20)
* Anatomy Lab. A virtual cadaver. Drag up or down with two fingers to peel away (or restore) another thin layer of the photo, down to the organs and beyond. Or choose from a list of body parts and jump directly, revealing that exposed part. Grisly and amazing. ($10)
* Epocrates. Another Twitter favorite. Like an electronic version of the huge Physicians' Desk Reference book. Tap in two or more medications, and it warns you of cross side effects. Tap in the description of a pill (hexagonal, yellow, inscription), and it tells you what the medicine is, and all about it. This much, plus a medical calculator (body mass, etc.) is free; paid versions offer even more instant information for the physician. (Free)
* AirStrip OB. Lets an obstetrician monitor a patient's status, right down to the baby's heartbeat, from elsewhere in the hospital (or the town). Requires that the AirStrip fetal software suite be installed at the hospital. A good hint at the kind of remote monitoring that may be possible. (Free)


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