Five Free Must-Have Medical Applications

Five Free Must Have Medical ApplicationsLike the Visa commercial on TV suggests, there are many things that money can buy; but the one thing that we cannot buy is health. However, there are some things that we can do to improve it. One of these is to take advantage of a number of specific medical applications that have been specifically designed to help us in our quest for health.

I have been around long enough to know that if you are like me, you are tired of reading long, drawn-out lists of available applications. However, I believe that this list of applications is different since any one of them has the potential to save your life or the life of a loved one. It is also important to note that the applications on the list that I have provided have the ability to cross the iOS and Android barrier, with each program being designed to work with either operating system.

I would highly recommend that you immediately consider downloading and installing the following medical applications.

EPA’s UV Index

This application, designed by the EPA, is meant to alert you to the amount of UV exposure that you are encountering. This is of critical importance — especially as we age — since one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer every year. In fact, while I am sure that most of you will protect yourself and your children on sun-filled days, are you aware that up to 80 percent of carcinogenic ultraviolet rays can penetrate the cloud layer? This means that even on those days when we are chilled by the cool breeze and we are praying for a glimpse of the sun, we may be subjecting ourselves to the harmful effects of UV rays. However, thanks to the EPA’s efforts and the UV Index application, we may be able to beat the odds and avoid skin cancer.

Epocratis RX

This is one of the most referenced medical applications. It is used by doctors, medical personnel, and consumers to compare the different prescription drugs that our health care providers expect us to trustingly ingest. This reference guide has been available to medical teams for years, but with this handy application, it is now available to the patient. In it, you will discover what the drug is intended to treat, how long it has been on the market, its side effects, and how it reacts to other drugs. It even goes so far as to advise the patient as to which foods may interact with its absorption and effectiveness.

Ask Karen

This is an application by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection service that provides updated information concerning the safety of the food we eat. The Ask Karen application can help you if you have a concern about a product’s safety or if you wish to ask questions about a new product that has just recently been released to the marketplace. These questions can include such topics as gene-modified foods or which foods have been at the heart of a recent E. Coli outbreak.

American Red Cross First Aid

This application is a favorite of many, including our resident LockerGnome associate Kat Armstrong who stated on Facebook: “100,000% agree with the Red Cross app. It’s phenomenal and has actually helped us out a few times.” I must admit that it is amazing and covers a vast variety of medical emergencies from how to treat a nasty sunburn to what to do if you suspect that someone is having heart attack. Whatever the medical situation is, however, this friendly guide may help you to save your life or the life of a loved one. I believe that this is one of those applications that everyone should have.

Azumio Instant Heart Rate

This application, as its name suggests, monitors your heart rate. If you are a fitness guru or a cardiac patient, this handy application is there to reassure you in the event that you feel like your heart is working too hard. After it is downloaded and installed, the user only needs to hold a finger over their smartphone camera lens and the application does the rest. Of course, being who I am, I was a bit skeptical as to how well the application would work. That was until I downloaded a copy to my Android phone. Upon doing so, I was amazed to see that it really does work. I even compared it to my automatic blood pressure reader (which also measures heart rate) and found that they both had the same reading. In addition, the application has one additional feature that I like. It provides the user with a color-coded rating system that goes from green (low) to yellow (average) to red (high). I found that this made reading the results much easier.

These were my top picks of medical applications that are currently available to the consumer. However, I am sure that there are other applications that you can recommend to all of us. I hope you will share these with our audience so that all of us can look forward to a healthier tomorrow.

Source: Money Talk News

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by EisFrei

Why Mobile Health Care Applications Should Be Regulated

Why Mobile Health Care Applications Should Be RegulatedThe next time you go to your doctor or dentist’s office, pay attention to the mobile device they are using. I know the last time I went to my doctor’s office, the nurse had a portable device in which she was recording my blood pressure, weight, and my reasons for seeing the doctor. I didn’t give it much thought until after I left and the examination was complete.

Before I proceed with my opinion, I would like to state that I believe we should have the least amount of intrusion by the government as possible. However, there are certain things, especially when it comes to our health, that need to be controlled and regulated by some type of governing authority. The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) has the responsibility to monitor the food that we eat and the prescription drugs that we take.

So why do mobile devices and their applications that are designed for health care professionals even need regulating? First of all, these applications need to be accurate in their record keeping abilities. The applications and the way the information is shared with other health care providers, or third parties, needs to be controlled. Our privacy needs to be protected by those who may use the data or personal information for other than its intended purpose.

Today it may seem like a non-issue when only vital statistics are saved onto the mobile device. In the future, one can see that more and more information will be stored as the applications improve. Security comes into question as to how safe our information will be from prying eyes. I would also be concerned as to how the insurance companies in the future could use this data to discriminate against those applying for health insurance.

I believe that the FDA must place requirements on application developers, not as to how their software functions, but on how this information will be stored and used. Can the application developers meet a simple security requirement to keep our data safe? In addition to safeguards to protect our data, we also need to protect a patient’s ID from being used by those who could use another’s insurance to pay for their own operations or medication.

Comments welcome.

My Wife Is In The Hospital So I Won’t Be Posting

Yesterday I had my wife taken by ambulance to our local hospital. Preliminary examination in the ER indicated that her colon is twisted.

She was in unbelievable pain, which they were able to control with pain medication.

Today we are hopefully meeting with a surgeon to see what course of action he recommends.

Because of this, I’ll be at the hospital most of my waking hours and will not be posting until I get her home.

Your prayers are requested for her getting well.

Consulting 'Dr. Google'

There should be an image here!The quality of online information about the most common sports medicine diagnoses varies widely, according to a study published in the July 2010 issue of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS). Therefore, patients who use the Internet to help make medical decisions need to know that the web may not be giving the whole picture.

“The reason that we decided to undertake this study is that patients are presenting to their physicians office with increasing frequency armed with printouts of information obtained from the Internet,” said Madhav A. Karunakar, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., and one of the study’s authors. “Physicians and patients should be aware that the quality of information available online varies greatly. Additionally, physicians should be prepared to discuss this information with their patients in order to ensure that it is not misinterpreted.”

Nearly three-quarters of the U.S. population has access to the Internet, and more than half of those people go online for health-related information at least once a month. However, quality controls over the health information found on the web have not grown at the same rate that Internet use has.

The study’s authors chose ten of the most common sports medicine diagnoses and reviewed the online information available on them. The diagnoses reviewed were:

  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear
  • Medial collateral ligament (MCL) tear
  • Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) tear
  • Rotator cuff tear
  • Meniscal tear
  • Labral tear (shoulder ligament injury)
  • Tennis elbow
  • Acromioclavicular joint separation (shoulder separation)
  • Patellofemoral syndrome (knee pain)
  • Osteochondral defect (joint defect)

Using the two most frequently used search engines (Google and Yahoo), the authors reviewed the top ten search results for each diagnosis, looking for completeness, correctness, and clarity of the information. They also recorded the source of the information — whether the site’s owner was a nonprofit organization, news source, academic institution, individual, physician, or commercial enterprise.

In terms of content, Dr. Karunakar says, nonprofit sites scored the highest, then academic sites (including medical journal sites), and then certain non-sales-oriented commercial sites (such as WebMD and eMedicine). The least accurate information sources were newspaper articles and personal web sites. Commercial sites with a financial interest in the diagnosis, such as those sponsored by companies selling a drug or treatment device, were very common but frequently incomplete.

“About 20 percent of the sites that turned up in the top ten results were sponsored sites,” Dr. Karunakar says. “These site owners are motivated to promote their product, so the information found there may be biased. We also found that these sites rarely mentioned the risks or complications associated with treatment as they are trying to represent their product in the best possible light.”

The study’s authors suggest that patients be counseled to avoid commercial Web sites, with the exception of the most reputable sites, such as WebMD and eMedicine, and look for the seal of compliance for transparency and accountability from the Health On the Net Foundation (HON). Orthopaedic residents and any health-care professional who may use the Internet as a reference tool during their education are similarly cautioned. The AAOS recommends Your Orthopaedic Connection, or, as a resource for patient education information, or if specific to sports medicine, the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM).

“Despite its shortcomings, the Internet is the future of how patients will obtain information to make their healthcare decisions,” says Dr. Karunakar. “Therefore, patients and physicians need to make sure they are getting that information from reputable, accurate sources.”

Lauren Pearson @ American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

[Photo above by takomabibelot / CC BY-ND 2.0]

[awsbullet:Doctors Book of Home Remedies]

L.A. To End Wild West For Weed Dispensaries, Hundreds Of Shops To Close

It has taken over 5 years, but L.A. has finally decided to take the bull by the horns and close hundreds of shops that dispense marijuana. The L.A. City Council put into place the last piece of a city ordinance that is designed to control not only the number of shops, but also the fees that they will pay to stay in business. After two years of work the city council has finally adopted a final version that was designed to answer the public outrage about the number of shops that were dispensing the medical pot.

The new law, which goes into affect June 4th, must now be published prior to be instituted. An L.A. Times article states:

Under the ordinance, the only dispensaries that can remain in business are those that registered when the city adopted a moratorium in 2007 and are still in business. City officials have estimated that number is 137. All other collectives will receive warning letters after the mayor signs the law and cease-and-desist letters in June.

Operators of the dispensaries that would be forced to shut down have been weighing their options. At least 25 dispensaries plan to file lawsuits next week. “We believe we have a legitimate right to exist,” said Dan Halbert, who runs Rainforest Collective in Mar Vista.

David Welch, the attorney representing the 25 collectives, said the suits would challenge the preferential treatment for collectives that registered under the moratorium. He noted that a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has ruled that the City Council illegally extended the moratorium, so the ban was not in place when most dispensaries opened.

Bill Rosendahl was the only council member to vote against the fees. He lambasted the ordinance as too prohibitive.

“I think it’s just totally insane and over the top,” he said.

One could take issue with the fact that such an ordinance could be perceived as being unlawful. But regulations concerning the number of bars located within city limits have been in effect for years. What could be unlawful is the way the law is being implemented against those shops that are currently in business. Only time will tell what happens in and out of court.

Comments welcome.

Source – L.A. Times

Would You Pay $300 To Call 9-1-1 For A Medical Emergency?

Most of us have read about the financial problems that California is facing, but one small town is taking their financial problems over board. The people in Tracy, California will have several options if and when they need to call 9-1-1 for a medical emergency. They can sign up for a yearly fee of $48 for calling 9-1-1 for a medical emergency or pay up to $300 per call each time they call for a medical emergency. It gets better if you are a non-resident and just traveling through Tracy, since you will be charged $400 for the honor of calling for help.

When I read this I recalled a skit by Bob Newhart in which he played the part of a fire dispatcher. The caller reports a fire at his house and is questioned if he has fire insurance from the fire department. While the house burns, Newhart explains to the resident several options and pricing for the insurance. The skit ends after the house has burned to the ground and Newhart asks the caller if they would still like to buy insurance for the next house fire.

At the time the skit was funny, but no one in their right mind would have taken it seriously. But the people in Tracy, California seem to be facing a similar situation. One can only imagine how the city council of  Tracy could of come up with such an outlandish idea. Will they start charging for 9-1-1 fire or police calls as well?

Do you agree that this is just a dumb idea?

Share your thoughts.

Comments welcome.


Medicare Reimbursement Change Meant To Save Money Has Opposite Effect

There should be an image here!Increased Medicare payments to physicians for outpatient surgeries for bladder cancer have led to a dramatic rise in the number of these procedures being performed and an overall increase in cost to the healthcare system. That is the conclusion of a new study published early online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society. The findings indicate that some Medicare policies aimed at decreasing costs may instead be contributing to an increase in healthcare expenditures.

Because bladder cancer is the most expensive cancer to treat, its management places a significant economic burden on the United States healthcare system, which costs two to four times that of healthcare systems in any other industrialized nation. In an attempt to reduce costs, in 2005 Medicare increased physician reimbursement for office-based endoscopic bladder procedures, such as biopsies. Moving these procedures from the more expensive inpatient hospital setting to the presumably less expensive outpatient office setting could cut costs provided that they are performed for the same indications, are equally efficacious, and are tolerable to patients.

The reimbursement change was expected to alter physician incentives, leading to increased use of outpatient endoscopic surgery, a decline in hospital-based endoscopic surgery and, consequently, a reduction in healthcare-related costs. To evaluate this hypothesis, Micah Hemani, MD, and Samir Taneja, MD, of the Division of Urologic Oncology at the New York University Langone Medical Center and their colleagues assessed treatment patterns in their practice before and after the Medicare change in physician reimbursement.

The investigators found that the number of outpatient bladder surgeries doubled after Medicare reimbursements rose, but the number of hospital-based surgeries did not significantly decline. As a result, there was a 50% increase in overall Medicare costs. While there was an increase in patient referrals for outpatient surgeries, it was not sufficient enough to account for the increased use of these procedures. There was, however, a rise in the redundant use of outpatient surgery on patients who also underwent hospital-based surgery for the same condition. Also, while the number of outpatient procedures increased, the likelihood that a procedure would lead to a bladder cancer diagnosis declined. “We believe these trends are disturbing as they may reflect both diagnostic and therapeutic over-utilization of office-based endoscopic bladder surgery,” the authors wrote.

The reasons for this surge in use of outpatient procedures are unknown but might include improvements in office-based equipment for surgery, improved physician comfort and skill with these operations, and the incentive of receiving increased financial reimbursement. Whatever the cause, these findings suggest that Medicare financial incentives for the outpatient treatment of bladder cancer may actually increase overall costs without improving care.

Dr. Hemani noted that the study’s results illustrate a need for clinical guidelines for these office-based surgeries, as well as a need for policy measures that ensure accountability for physicians who perform them.

“Given the ongoing healthcare debate in Congress regarding reforming the current system, one wonders if many of the changes currently being proposed in Washington might not have similar effects to what we are seeing in this one isolated example,” said David Penson, MD, MPH, of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, who was not involved with the study but wrote an accompanying editorial. “Sometimes, policies have the exact opposite effect of what was intended,” he cautioned.

David Sampson @ American Cancer Society

[Photo above by Rob Lee / CC BY-ND 2.0]

[awsbullet:health insurance]

Is P2P File Sharing Really Fair Use?

A Harvard Law professor by the name of Charles Nesson states that P2P file sharing is fair use. He bases his claim on current law and has testified in court.  The bases of his contention is this:

Wholesale copying of music on P2P networks is fair use. Statutory damages can’t be applied to P2P users. File-swapping results in no provable harm to rightsholders.

These are just some of the assertions that Harvard Law professor Charles Nesson made last week in his defense of accused file-swapper Joel Tenenbaum. In court filings, Nesson spelled out his defense strategy, which doesn’t appear to involve claims that his client “didn’t do it.” Instead, Nesson argues that it doesn’t matter if Tenenbaum copied music; such noncommercial uses are presumptively “fair” and anyone seeking to squeeze file-swappers for statutory damages is entitled to precisely zero dollars.

The strategy certainly doesn’t lack for boldness. In making the case that statutory damages only apply to commercial infringers, Nesson says that his reading of the law is “constitutionally compelled.” His most interesting argument is that the law offers rightsholders the chance to seek either statutory or actual damages, but that the two are meant to be equivalent.

“It would be a bizarre statute indeed that offered two completely unrelated remedies,” he writes, “one which granted actual damages and lost profits, and the other of which granted plaintiffs the right to drive a flock of sheep across federal property on the third day of each month.”

Wow! That is interesting. Even more interesting if the court buys it. There is more:

It’s all fair use

In any event, all of this statutory damages talk doesn’t matter, because Nesson claims that Tenenbaum’s use of the songs at issue here was “fair use” and thus not an infringement at all. It’s a gutsy move to claim that wholesale downloads of complete copyrighted works for no purpose higher than mere enjoyment of music somehow satisfies the famous “four factor test” for fair use claims, but Nesson believes he can win over a jury.

So what are the ‘four factor test?’

The four factors judges consider are:

  1. the purpose and character of your use
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market.

So what do you think? Can this legal legalese work?

Comments welcome.


  • CEO Of Craigslist Promises Criminals Will Get Caught

    The CEO of Craiglist is saying that anyone who uses his site to commit criminal activity will get caught. Jim Buckmaster says that it will be a very unsafe haven for criminals because of this. Craigslist has always been a popular web site which has attracted over 50 million people every month. 

    Craigslist gained unwanted notoriety when a medical student from Boston used the advertising site to locate his victims. One of the victims actually was murdered by the suspect which brought Craigslist to national attention. The kind of attention that no web site wants or needs. 

    The CEO also stated that:

    Buckmaster declined to say much about how Craigslist is cooperating with authorities investigating the Boston case but said, “We make ourselves 100 percent available to them and provide them with any and all information we have that they may request.”

    Law enforcement officials generally ask that Craigslist not comment on what it’s doing in specific cases, he said.

    Buckmaster defended Craigslist’s inclusion of the “erotic services” classification on its sites. He said users requested it so those ads would be posted there, where users can avoid them, instead of being scattered among other ad categories. He also insisted that illegal activity is “absolutely not welcome there.”

    He said Craigslist will donate 100 percent of its net revenues from those ads to charities, under an agreement announced in November with 40 state attorneys general.

    Craigslist’s city sites include tips on personal safety and avoiding scams and fraud. Buckmaster said the Minnesota and Boston cases provide an opportunity to remind people that it makes sense when meeting someone found through an online ad to take the same kinds of precautions they should take offline.

    Hopefully this will turn out to be an isolated case. With millions of visitors every month, trying to control this many visitors is an impossible task.


    Should We Allow Any Company The Ability To Store Our Medical Records?

    In my original article about Microsoft & Kaiser Permanente joining in an effort to store patient records [here], one reader asked a question that I found interesting.

    Reader leftystrat states:

    I’ve been watching this unfold. We seem to have `progressed’ from the concept of electronic records directly to the debate on which service to use to store them.

    We seem, however, to have completely bypassed the debate over WHETHER to use electronic records.

    It will surprise no one that I say not to use them at all. To have information available is to have it stolen or misused eventually. Period.

    Safely in my forties, I have survived quite well without anyone (including me) having electronic and immediate access to my medical records. Don’t let anyone fool you – an emergency room can treat you without having access – they’ve been doing it as long as there have been emergency rooms.

    This is a solution looking for a problem.

    Lastly, your records are already in electronic form whether you realize it or not. There are tons of insurers in Hartford, CT. Care to bet there aren’t MANY copies of all your records up there?

    GREAT post, Ron.

    Well leftystrat,  I believe you have hit the nail on the head. Why is there a need for storing our medical records whether it is by Google, Microsoft and anyone? How secure will the storage of the information be? Who will have access to the information?  What assurances will we have that this information will not be used against us, i.e. using family history to prevent someone from getting medical insurance, or life insurance and so forth?

    What do you think?

    Comments welcome.

    Would You Use Google Health [Beta] ?

    Most of us are aware that Google has been talking about having a health Web site, in which we can store our health data. So now that Google is offering the service for free, I went to take a look at the site. It is very inclusive and is easy to navigate and to set up a profile. Google’s site states:

    About Google Health

    Google Health allows you to store and manage all of your health information in one central place. And it’s completely free. All you need to get started is a Google username and password.

    Google believes that you own your medical records and should have easy access to them. The way we see it, it’s your information; why shouldn’t you control it?

    • Keep your doctors up-to-date
    • Stop filling out the same paperwork every time you see a new doctor
    • Avoid getting the same lab tests done over and over again because your doctor cannot get copies of your latest results
    • Don’t lose your medical records because of a move, change in jobs or health insurance

    Though I believe Google has done a great job setting up the health site and states that your medical data will be safe, what do you think about storing this information online?

    Comments welcome.

    Google site is here.

    Google And Your Health Records

    Google announced yesterday its involvement in an agreement with a Cleveland Clinic to start the storing of medical data for patients on a test basis. The pilot program will involve the storage of medical data, which will be available to all those who agree to participate in the program. Google on its blog states the following information:

    This week, we hit another important milestone. We launched a pilot with a medical institution committed to giving patients access to their own medical records: The Cleveland Clinic. A large academic medical center, Cleveland is one of the first partners to integrate on our platform. Because of their size and reach with patients who already have access to their medical records online, Cleveland has been a great partner for us to test out our data sharing model. Patients participating in the Cleveland pilot give authorization via our AuthSub interface to have their electronic medical records safely and securely imported into a Google account. It’s great to see our product getting into the hands of end users, and I look forward to the feedback that the Cleveland patients will provide us.

    Cleveland is just the first of many healthcare providers that will securely send medical records and information via Google APIs at your request. We’ve been hard at work collaborating with a number of insurance plans, medical groups, pharmacies and hospitals. While this pilot is open initially to just a few thousand patients, I see it as an important first step to show how Google can help users get access to their medical records and take charge of their health information.

    The pilot program will include the ability for patients to access their medical information on the Internet. Though it was clear the type of security measures being taken, one would hope that the records would be secure. But will they be?

    What’s your take? Would you allow your medical records to be accessed on the Internet?

    Comments welcome.

    Full Google blog article is here.

    Revolution Health Care – Interesting Concept

    AOL founder Steve Case has started a new service called Revolution Health Care at his new website located here.

    In his introduction letter, Mr. Case states that he fully became aware of the short comings of the health care system here in the U.S., when his brother was diagnosed with a brain tumor and he saw first hand the struggles his brother went through. He describes the medical bureaucracies his brother had to endure, the mountains of paper work, and the time it took from being diagnosed until his brother actually received treatment. His intro. letter can be read here.

    So I took a look at the Revolution Health Care site for two reasons. One was to see what it was all about, and two, to see if there was any information for a condition that my wife has suffered and which has previously been diagnosed as Lupus.

    The first thing you will notice when you enter the web site, is that it is very easy to navigate and is easy to use. Everything is spelled out in a eye pleasing format with plenty of options to choose from. So I headed over to the section “Conditions and Treatments.” Nothing revolutionary here. Some patient support about patients suffering from Lupus. I know from first hand experience what my wife has been and is going through. And descriptions of the illness that I am also familiar as well as available treatments. Again,nothing new. And I do not say this to be critical, only as a personal observation.

    Your mileage may vary.

    There are many other areas for you to explore including Healthy Living, Doctors and Hospitals [comparing doctors and hospitals in your area], Insurance [what companies in your area provide health insurance], and a section Learn From Others [where people post their medical experience].

    So if your interested, I’d take a look and see what you think. In fairness this is a new site and will take some time to grow.

    [tags]health, care, medical, hospital, insurance, [/tags]

    The Emergency Room

    We made it to Iowa, safe and sound – almost. The ride from Seattle to Denver was extraordinarily bumpy. We were on United, so I was able to quell my fears through Channel 9 (I love listening to the chatter, gaining a better understanding of what the pilots are doing / are about to do). No emergency there. However, before taking off for Des Moines, Ponzi started to feel a bit of discomfort in her right eye – as if dirt got in there somehow. She tried eye drops, but the irritation wasn’t going away. We were now out of state, but wanted to make sure that this wasn’t a serious situation. It wasn’t quite an emergency health situation, but we weren’t sure if plain ol’ flushing would do the trick. Ponzi got on the phone with our health insurance provider (GroupHealth, which is truly a wonderful organization as I’ve come to discover) to ask for options. An emergency room visit would likely be covered, although the cost of permanent eye damage is far higher than any medical bill. As Ponzi was closing the call, my mom was getting of the phone with Dad – who just broke his wrist, and needed a ride to the hospital.

    We drove over to the scene of the incident, finding him surrounded by several paramedics and officers. His wrist, indeed, was severely dislocated. I didn’t have time to tell him we were there when an ambulance pulled up behind us. Looks like this situation was more serious than previously anticipated. I told Mom to ride with Dad in the ambulance, and Ponzi and I took the car down to Mercy Hospital here in Des Moines – where he would be diagnosed and treated. Our first day back in Iowa was spent largely dealing with medical issues – and I’m writing this particular report while lying on a couch in the surgery waiting room. Ponzi’s fine; an extreme flushing and tetanus shot took care of her problem. Dad is currently getting repaired on the operation table; his left wrist has been shattered, and the doctors are doing all they can to try to help the injury heal with the least amount of long-term effects.
    Continue reading “The Emergency Room”