We are observing both the Android and i-OS space flooded with Health and wellness apps, which are nothing but mobile application programs offering health/ fitness-related services on smartphones, tablet PCs and other digital devices. The availability of these health and wellness apps has focused interest a new domain – “digital health”.
The U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) distinguishes between general health and wellness apps that promote awareness and wellness from those mobile medical apps that focus on diagnosis and treatment of any/ multiple disease(s).
According to the FDA:
“Mobile apps are software programs that run on smartphones and other mobile communication devices. They can also be accessories that attach to a smartphone or other mobile communication device, or a combination of accessories and software. Mobile medical apps are medical devices that are mobile apps, meet the definition of a medical device and are an accessory to a regulated medical device or transform a mobile platform into a regulated medical device.”
For example, an app that records how many calories an individual consumes on a daily basis is considered a health and wellness app. But if the same app claims to track / monitor/ recommend calories to help address individual’s obesity, then it can be termed a medical app since it is helping manage a disease state (and thus regulated by the FDA).
Most Apps fit into one (or more) of the below mentioned categories:
- Ease of access: They help you save your health related records, reports for easy accessibility when needed. You may also search long records by date/ lab etc. Most major laboratories now have apps where a customer’s reports are directly delivered.
- Time or calories spent / activity done during an exercise session
- Calories consumed during a meal/ a day
- Ready reckoner of calories/ burn rate
- Pulse rate
- Awareness: common side effects of drugs; interaction between drugs
- Feminine health:
- Menstruation tracker
- Tracker of symptoms of PMS
- Pregnancy tracker cum relevant information as per duration of pregnancy.
- Medical apps:
- Help one control chronic ailments like high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma/ COPD, obesity and cholesterol abnormalities by timely alerts of repeat tests, in-depth insights into non-pharmacological management and prescriptions, as and when required.
A word of caution, though: Apps only help you track, monitor your activity; give relevant credible information when required but THE ACTIVITY HAS TO BE DONE YOU. Apps do NOT take away your efforts to remain well or healthy!