Just as Menulog and UberEats have forever transformed takeaway, so too have many apps disrupted the way people interact with and receive care from their medical providers. These new apps are a world apart from the scattershot, anxiety-inducing approach taken by popular sites such as WebMD, and instead tend to focus in on a specific condition or work to create direct links between patient and carer.
This new focus has seen these apps come leaps and bound. Many of these apps play an increasingly valuable role in a range of processes, providing simple workarounds or missing links that can reduce the time, money and energy required to deliver treatment.
One of the most exciting new healthcare apps set to be rolled out this year is GoodSAM – or Good Smartphone Activated Medics – could be described as 'Uber for first aid'. Designed in the UK, the app allows people in medical distress to dial emergency services and request medical assistance, while simultaneously alerting medically qualified responders in the local area to their situation. The idea is that while the ambulance is on its way, off-duty paramedics, doctors, medical students and other first aid-trained people can choose to provide critical help.
The importance of starting CPR or first aid as early as possible is well documented, so shortening the time between incident and first aid by as little as a minute could potentially save a life. Already in use in London, the app is being slowly trialled and deployed by Ambulance Victoria over 2018.
Keeping patients connected
A different approach to healthcare apps is in deepening existing relations, not speeding up the creation of new ones. One of the key apps operating in this space is the Australian-designed CancerAid, built by Sydney doctors Dr Raghav Murali-Ganesh and Dr Nikhil Pooviah. The app allows cancer patients to access personalised and peer-reviewed information about their treatment, symptoms and diagnosis, allowing them to make more informed choices when they next speak to their carers. Launched in July of 2016, the app quickly became one of the most downloaded healthcare apps in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, showing a real international hunger for app-facilitated medical education and communication.
Building the future of medicine
Many app developers are looking at all the ways that a smartphone facilitates the gathering of information and seeing it as the perfect way to conduct a research project. PPD-ACT is one such app, looking at why certain women suffer post-partum depression (PPD) and others don't. Involving a team from the University of Queensland, the app asks a series of questions and requests certain medical data in at attempt to determine whether there's a genetic cause for PPD.
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