Leveraging Smart Phone Apps to Help Patients

Smartphone apps are known to entertain and distract but they also are proving their worth when it comes to improving health as well. A couple of recent studies illustrate just how valuable these apps can be when applied to clinical care.
For example, according to researchers at Mayo Clinic who presented study results at the recent American College of Cardiology's 63rd Annual Scientific Session, heart attack patients who used a smartphone-based app to record daily measurements such as weight and blood pressure during their post-hospital cardiac rehabilitation period were less likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 90 days of discharge, compared with patients who only attended the cardiac rehabilitation. 
"We know from studies that patients who participate in cardiac rehabilitation lower their risks significantly for another cardiac event and for re-hospitalization," said Amir Lerman, M.D., Mayo Clinic cardiologist and senior study author. "We wanted to see if offering patients a smartphone app, in addition to their cardiac rehab, would increase their ability to reduce their risk even further. We know that people use their mobile devices all day, and we hoped using it for cardiac rehab would help them in their recovery."
Another study, conducted by the Columbia University School of Nursing and published in Oncology Nursing Forum, shows that nurses who use a smartphone-based clinical guidelines program about smoking screen patients more often and are more successful at helping patients quit smoking than nurses who don't embrace the app.
The study found that when patients displayed a willingness to quit smoking, nurses who used the app followed up with the patients 99 percent of the time, providing the patients with teaching materials, counseling, and referral interventions. The nurses also asked patients about their smoking habits in 84 percent of the clinic visits. 
"These findings suggest that mobile applications can play a significant role in curbing tobacco use," said lead study author Kenrick Cato, an associate research scientist at Columbia Nursing.