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The Doctor is in, Check Your Smartphone: Part Two

Part II

By now, it’s pretty standard to own some kind of fancy device that synchs with your smartphone and tracks some part of your human-ness. Typically, you’ll track your steps, food-intake, diet, sleep, heart rate, even your mood! Specialized medical apps can do things like assist those with diabetes to monitor their blood sugar and for cardiac patients to keep track of their blood pressure. If you can think of it, there is probably an app that’s there to serve your health, wellness and medical needs, including actual doctor “tele-health” visits.

Think you need to see a doctor? Doctor on Demand allows instant access to a virtual “office visit” with a qualified physician via a video appointment on your computer, tablet or smart phone. Common conditions like cold and flu, skin issues, eye problems and sports injuries are routinely diagnosed and, if needed, medications are prescribed. Mental health appointments are also available to deal with stress, anxiety, depression and other conditions. This service is great if you don’t have insurance, live in a remote area where health care is difficult to access, or if getting an appointment through your usual channels will take too long. Visits are typically $40 for 15 minutes, and are private and secure.

A free, 24/7 app called First Opinion allows you to text one of a small team of physicians who can instantly answer your medical questions by text. This app is helpful to rule out whether you should actually go to the doctor, or if there’s a quick medical question you need answered. You can send pictures and ask questions about any health-related topic. For $39 you can also have prescriptions or lab tests ordered. If you have insurance, prescriptions are often covered by your plan.

These apps are great for when you need a doctor, but what about proactively managing your health, before you need a physician? The future of medicine–personalized medicine–takes into consideration your unique health data (like genetics,) and tailors preventative and treatment plans just for you. For example, your own genetic profile, all that personal data that you’re collecting with your health and wellness apps, health records, and even reimbursement information can be combined with evidence-based health knowledge. The result: an app that notifies you with tailored and actionable recommendations for your general health and wellness.

This new way of delivering direct feedback is not far off. In the fall of 2016, a novel smart phone app, OME, will launch. The app is one-of-a-kind; using artificial intelligence in partnership with IBM Watson combined with you personal genetic and healthcare profile. The app not only collects data but tells you how to take action. For example, you could get a message from OME that says, “You are at 50% of your goal based on your genetics and desired weight loss plan.” This kind of dynamic and personalized monitoring will be just what the doctor ordered.