Health apps in the news this week

By Brian Dolan
02:32 am

Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsOver the past few weeks I've noticed an increasing number of stories in the main stream media focused on various types of health apps. Dieting apps, sexual health apps, sleep apnea apps, fitness apps, emergency care apps, psychiatry apps and more have received ink -- in some cases -- from big name publications and media outlets recently.

It's clear that mobile health apps have quickly become a go-to topic of discussion for health reporters around the country.

Here's a quick redux of health apps in the news for those that missed them:

NYC Health Department launches controversial free condom finding app: This was perhaps the most high-profile of stories since it received coverage virtually everywhere, including a sensational headline over at The Drudge Report. As CBS News reported, it wasn't just Valentine's Day this week: "February 14 is also National Condom Day and the Health Department is launching a NYC Condom mobile-enabled website so more New Yorkers can use their phones to find free condoms and access information about sexual health." The app version of the offering had been downloaded 25,000 times before the most recent report went viral. CBS

Purdue developing calorie counting app from food images: This research reminds me of MealSnap. Researchers at Purdue are developing technology that aims to accurately judge and quantify the calorific information of foods captures by smartphone cameras: "The application counts more than calories. It also provides information on the amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates in food through the Technology Assisted Dietary Assessment system, or TADA, being developed by Purdue's College of Health and Human Sciences and School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. 'Our goal is to allow people to record their food intake and help individuals with health challenges like diabetes understand what they're eating and make healthier choices,' said Carol Boushey, who led the development team while a professor in Purdue’s College of Health and Human Sciences." Purdue

Boston Globe reports on diet apps that work: The Globe had a short piece on dieting apps and presented a testimonial for one local startup: "Friends had been successful tracking their food consumption and exercise using a website and free mobile application called MyFitnessPal. Noonan, 24, of Cambridge, signed up, too. It helped her understand what that butter meant for her calorie count, and see the benefit of a few extra minutes on the elliptical machine. And, she said, it kept her focused." Boston Globe

NPR rounds up sleep health apps and devices: NPR had a short piece on health apps and companion devices worth knowing. Here's there list with prices: Sleep Cycle for iOS: $1. Sleep Bot Tracker for Android: Free. Wakemate app: $60. Lark: $99. Zeo Sleep Manager Mobile: $99. SleepTracker Elite: $149. NPR

Accelerometer-based fitness device technology advances: Expect the next crop of fitness tracking devices to have more accurate accelerometer technologies embedded: "The MotionFit SDK from InvenSense addresses key accuracy and performance issues by providing a complete 10-axis MotionTracking solution to developers encompassing a 3-axis gyroscope, 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis compass and a pressure sensor to support a wider range of motions to accurately identify and track a broad range of activities including running, swimming, hiking, and tennis." More

A kidney transplant patient developed a health tracker app: A kidney transplant patient of ten years with nine years of dialysis experience has developed a new app called My Blood Works that is a multi-functional health tracker app. The app helps patients track blood pressure, blood tests and more. More

Fire department teamed up with El Camino Hospital for new emergency app: This new app PulsePoint reminds me of one that we covered last year -- Fire Department. PulsePoint is offered as part of a partnership between the San Jose Fire Department and El Camino Hospital. The app's users are people who have indicated that they are trained in CPR. The app then notifies them if someone nearby is having a cardiac emergency. It also helps users find the location of the nearest publicly available automated external defibrillator (AED). More

New York Times puts psychiatry apps on the couch: The New York Times asked a few psychiatrists what they thought about the potential of mental health apps -- with the requisite mixed results, of course: “We are built as human beings to figure out our place in the world, to construct a narrative in the context of a relationship that gives meaning to our lives,” Dr. Andrew J. Gerber, a psychiatrist at Columbia University told the Times. “I would be wary of treatments that don’t allow for that.” The New York Times concludes, however, that "the upside is that well-designed apps could reach millions of people who lack the means or interest to engage in traditional therapy and need more than the pop mysticism, soothing thoughts or confidence boosters now in use." New York Times


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