Top 15 apps to recommend to patients
30 million people in the UK now have smartphones, so apps can be a useful way for people to manage their health and find practical information. There are a number of different areas where apps can be useful including diet information, self tracking and help specific conditions.
There are two main platforms available for smartphones. These are iOS which runs on Apple's iphone and android, which runs on HTC, Samsung and many other brands. While many apps will have versions for both, some will be specific to a particular platform.
Many of these apps are free, so you can test them out before letting them loose on your patients.
Health information apps
Along with the phone service and website, the NHS direct app is a first port of call for non-emergency ailments. The apps are linked to the NHS 111 telephone service so you can easily request a callback if necessary.
Isabel 6 (iPhone) - free
The Isabel Symptom Checker helps you to find possible causes for your symptoms. It's an alternative to the NHS direct service.
GP ratings (iPhone) - free
GP Rating helps people choose the best GP surgery in their local area.
Medimapp (iPhone) - free
Medimapp is an intelligent map application for the finding and understanding of NHS healthcare options around you.
Self tracking apps
Lots of people struggle with their weight and would like to record the nutritional content of what they eat. But it can be hard to keep track of this over a long period. My fitness pal makes this easy with a huge database of items that you can add by either searching or scanning a barcode. It can also be linked up with services such as fitbit.
There are a bunch of apps and devices for recording activity and fitbit is one of the better ones. You can enter in records of activity and food eaten as well as monitoring like weight and BMI. However where fitbit really shines is the passive recording through its devices. The fitbit aria is a wireless scales that uploads your weight to your account automatically and the fitbit flex is a tiny device worn on the wrist which tracks your steps. All this information is then aggregated on the dashboard to log and compare. Also good for this is the slightly more expensive Withings range of scales.
Strava comes in two flavours, one for cycling and one for running, though cycling is what they're known for. It's not quite as easy as fitbit since you have to remember to turn it on each time you exercise, but they both record loads of useful information about your journeys like distance, average speed, top speed. This is great for people who run or cycle on a regular basis and are looking to up their game.
Runkeeper is very similar to Strava and in spite of its name can record any kind of activity. It also does duration, length, calories burned amongst other things, as well as allowing you to share your workouts on social media plus advanced features like personal training workouts that you can compare your activity to.
The fitbit flex inside the wristband
Training and specific conditions
Not everybody has the desire to record in intense detail everything that goes in or out of them. Some people would much rather have a simple goal such as running a 5k. Which is where couch25k comes in. It gives you step by step workouts to reach the goal of running a 5k race within 3 months. It'll also help you track your progress along the way, sharing it with the running community. There are a number of similar apps which are all fairly good.
Silver Cloud Healthcare (subscription service)
SilverCloud Health is an online therapy programme. Each program that is developed typically encourages you to complete a module over a 40 – 60 minute session once per week for the 8 – 10 week period. You are also encouraged to access various tools and applications such as your journal, mindfulness, meditation, life style choices chart several times during the week. This app is a paid subscription.
Diabetes tracker (iPhone) - free
This official Diabetes UK app, Diabetes UK Tracker, is designed to be quick and simple to use, taking the chore out of logging your daily levels to help you effectively manage your diabetes.
Smoke free (iPhone) - free
This is an app that gives you an additional boost in your effort to quit smoking by keeping a 10 second diary when you experience each craving. Based on these records it helps you to to choose useful strategies to aid your goals. You'll also send anonymous data that helps other people to quite based on your results.
SiKL (iPhone) - free
SiKL is a personal medical record for people with Sickle Cell Disease and their carers. SiKL means your personal sickle cell medical history is always to hand for routine appointments and in emergencies.
Of course, if you're a GP looking for locum work we highly reccomend the Network Locum (now Lantum) app to find jobs in your area quickly and easily. Network Locum (now Lantum) is a new way for locum doctors to find work