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The 411 on Medical Mobile Apps

Photo by: Julie70 (Flickr)

Nurses understand that the healthcare industry is one of constant change. The technology behind how we diagnose and treat our patients is groundbreaking, and we must continue our nursing education on a regular basis to ensure we are always up to date on our industry's latest technological advancements. It might come as a surprise to some of you, but mobile devices are proving to be at the cutting edge of medical technology, and the FDA is ramping up to regulate some medical mobile apps designed to make the future of nursing much easier.

Professional Use

Initially, it might seem a bit hard to imagine using your cell phone to treat a patient, but these handheld mini-computers are proving quite useful to nurses when it comes to patient care. Some mobile medical apps already in use allow healthcare professionals to use their smartphone as mobile ultrasound machines, provide mobile EKG capabilities, diagnose cancer, and aid in the treatment of radiation poisoning. If there is one thing we nurses know, it's that a medical emergency rarely happens when the patient is already in the hospital. As such, these medical mobile apps truly make a difference in our ability to aid people in crises when we are in the field or simply out running errands on our day off.

Being able to aid a victim at the scene of any emergency is crucial to our ability to save that person's life. Paramedics certainly use mobile equipment in their daily practice while transporting patients to the hospital. Nurses and doctors are often faced with circumstances requiring mobile medical equipment as well, and until now, we didn't really have much to work with except first aid kits or the limited mobile medical equipment found in places such as airplanes. Now, we can use our smartphones to help us help our patients, no matter where we are.

Patient Use

Mobile medical equipment isn't limited to healthcare professionals, however, and our patients themselves will benefit greatly from this new technology. One of the new medical mobile apps I'm the most excited about is an app designed to aid diabetics in their overall insulin treatment. You and I both know that insulin-dependent diabetes can be extremely difficult to manage. Developers have designed a medical mobile app for Type A diabetes sufferers to work in tandem with their glucose meters, acting as the “central command” center, if you will, for the medical device.

Other consumer healthcare apps include numerous wellness apps designed to aid the dieter in tracking his or her daily caloric intake and exercise for optimal weight maintenance, and nursing moms can use the National Institutes of Health's “LactMed” app to make certain any medications they are taking will not harm their baby through their breast milk. It's clear that medical mobile apps will not only help us keep our patients healthy, but also help our patients keep themselves healthy.


You might be asking, “But at what cost?” and I have to agree with you. We need to leave the medical diagnosis and overall treatment to the professionals, and we certainly do not want our patients attempting to use a medical mobile app to diagnose whether they have cancer. And, since research suggests that an estimated 500 million people, including consumers and patients, will be downloading and using mobile medical apps by 2015, there needs to be some kind of regulation to make certain these apps are working properly. Enter the FDA.

The FDA does not regulate the mobile phone or mobile app industry, but it is putting its stamp on certain types of medical mobile apps, because these apps are being designed to work just like the medical equipment we use professionally. The diagnosing, imaging, and EKG apps that we can use when we're out in the field are required to meet the same federal regulations our in-house equipment is required to meet. Other apps, however, such as the weight management apps, won't be required to meet such stringent standards.

Think about it. Medical mobile apps are the wave of our future. These applications will enable us to view diagnostic imaging on our mobile devices and transform these devices into critical diagnostic tools when facing an emergency away from the hospital. I cannot think of better technology to make our jobs as nurses easier, and I'm truly looking forward to learning how to use all of these medical mobile apps. I'm quite certain somebody said that smartphones were the wave of the future sometime back. Well, I'm going to say medical mobiles apps are the wave of nursing future right now.

For more information on medical mobile apps, please see the following links:

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