What are the best healthcare apps for doctors to use in their practice? In this article, we discuss the characteristics of a good healthcare app, the features available, and what to consider when choosing an app to use with patients.
Like most professionals working in health-related fields, physicians make use of their phones for a great many things, both personal and business. Fifteen years ago it was mostly used on a personal level or perhaps for calling into the office to check on a patient or communicate with a colleague. Today, with the advances in cell phone and tablet technology, physicians can nearly take their practice with them as they travel. There are literally dozens of apps for healthcare professionals, catering to a whole range of needs.
What are the best medical apps for doctors? It depends to some extent on the context of their practice. A family practitioner in his own office is going to have different needs compared to a specialist in a hospital. However, there are some general categories that apps should handle well. To assess whether an app is good or even suitable, an app should meet a physician’s basic needs in the areas of :
- Appropriateness and suitability
- Transparency and content
- Technical support and updates
While all apps do address these features to some degree, there are those who deal with it better than others, and while perhaps not a deal breaker for using an app, might help make the decision between different choices.
In general, doctors will want an app that does at least one of several things. It needs to improve the efficiency of the practice in some way, streamline the workflow of the office, or free up more time to spend on actual patient care. It needs to make the practice of medicine more accurate, such as improving the ability to diagnose and making sure records are correct, secure, and easy to access. It also needs to be convenient, being easy to access and utilize in order to make use of what they provide.
No app is going to do all of these things. More specifically, doctors will be looking for a combination of apps that can provide the above general improvements to some of the following categories:
- Information Management
- Time Management
- Health Record Maintenance and Access
- Communications and Consulting
- Reference and Information Gathering
- Clinical Decision-Making
- Patient Monitoring
- Patient Interaction
- Medical Education and Training
It may take different apps to do all that. Given the needs and complexities of a medical practice, apps need to specialize to provide the level of functionality doctors would need for some of their work. So, how can apps meet this need? What can they do?
A professional healthcare app needs to provide greater efficiency, accuracy, and/or convenience for one or more of the above categories, relative to typical medical practice functioning. It also needs to do it to the extent that it makes the investment of time and money into the application worthwhile.
Some apps may have overlapping functionality, providing more usefulness to one element of a practice than another. Finding the right ones can take some trial and error or may change as the practice evolves and grows. Regardless, they should be easy to apply to a given task.
Some of the tasks an app can address include the following:
- Appointment management features for scheduling patients and patient self-scheduling, as well as sending appointment reminders
- Video conferencing for telehealth appointments
- EHR (electronic health records) to keep patient records easily accessible and updated
- The ability to send patients prescriptions electronically
- Staff management including scheduling and reviews
- Communication features including messaging between team members and also the ability for patients to be able to message their doctor, and the doctor to connect and network with other doctors
- Payment integrations to easily be able to bill patients and for patients to be able to pay via the app
- Wearables integration to gather critical information like blood pressure, heart rate, and more to help providers understand each patient’s health in more detail
- The apps must be HIPAA compliant to ensure patient privacy
- Ease of use for medical office staff as well as patients
- Note taking, recording, photographing, organizing
- Coding and billing
- Medical books/journals, search portals, drug guides, and news
- Support systems, treatment guidelines, diagnosis aids, medical calculators, lab test ordering/interpretation, medical exams, and referrals
- Health, location, rehabilitation, data collections, condition monitoring (i.e. heart function, diabetes, etc.)
- CME, assessments, exam preparation, case studies, e-learning, simulations, and skill tests
Apps for the above categories can be broadly separated into two groups. Some healthcare apps are oriented more generally to the medical practice, while others are more specific to the doctor and their handling of patients. The following are some good options for doctors looking to find something to address the above-listed categories.
SelfDecode Pro provides both patient and physician information on health predispositions, as well as diet and lifestyle recommendations based on genetic analysis. With SelfDecode Pro, health practitioners can easily create custom health plans for clients based on their DNA, labs, and lifestyle data.
This healthcare app also offers practitioners the ability to analyze and track over 1,500 lab markers and create personalized health regimens for each client. In addition, SelfDecode provides a wealth of resources in the form of health reports, gene & SNP databases, and evidence-based blog posts.
Practitioners can access, create, and share health questionnaires with clients and write notes on each client’s profile as well as store documents, images, and test results securely.
- DrChrono allows automated messages to patients, lets patients request virtual doctor visits, attend online visits using any device and sign consent forms in real time.
- Im Your Doc is a communication app to facilitate the connection between patient and doctor as well as the practice.
- Doximity allows the doctor to network with other physicians and exchange information.
- Medscape is a medical reference app that offers news, drug information, medical calculators, and continuing medical education opportunities.
- UpToDate gives access to a searchable, medical information database useful for point of diagnosis decisions.
- DynaMed is a medical reference app that provides information for clinical decisions.
- Unbound Medline gives you access to articles in Pubmed’s database.
- MDCalc offers tools to help you make decisions about patient care.
- Prevention Taskforce is an app that makes evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services.
- Epocrates provides access to information and resources designed to help the physician to make more informed clinical decisions.
- Complete Anatomy provides 3D anatomic images of the human body.
- VisualDX uses a database of images to help clinicians better a variety of diseases, including rare conditions.
- Calcium provides information from prevention to management and recovery for conditions and ongoing wellness.
- Kareo is a cloud-based electronic health record (EHR) app designed for iOS devices. It manages a range of tasks from appointments and records to clinical notes and billing.
- EpicCare is an app that allows appointment, scheduling, billing, and payment.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. There are dozens of options available and no end of places willing to rate them. There are viable, useful apps out there for doctors and medical practices to make use of to improve the efficiency, accuracy, and convenience of their work. However, it’s important to understand what each healthcare app encompasses and if it can really help practitioners streamline their business.
Whether it’s to improve patient-to-practice communication, facilitate more convenient and accurate diagnosis, or foster overall patient health by including genetics in patient care, apps for healthcare professionals have a lot to offer.
For a thriving practice, it’s important to choose the right tools that will benefit both the practitioner and the client. Book a demo call today to discover if SelfDecode Pro is the best healthcare app for your practice.