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Writing for KevinMD, Jeff Livingston questions whether despite the boom in personal smartphones and tablet use, whether clinicians will prescribe the use of health apps to patients.

Whilst there has been an explosion in health apps for both patients and clinicians, to truly integrate the concept into the health care system will require healthcare providers to get involved.

New technological innovations represent a “paradigm shift” for clinicians, moving away from the traditional prescriptions of medications, exercises and face-to-face contacts. Livingston states however that innovation is nothing new to clinicians, consistently having to adapt to new procedures, equipment and tests. As analysis of safety, efficacy and cost amongst other factors are considered in these procurements, the same considerations should be applied to health apps.

Many clinicians are “early adopters”, seeking the latest innovations in both their professional and personal lives. It is thought that whether enthusiastic or hesitant, clinicians are leading the way into mobile health, with many embracing tablets or smartphones into their clinical practice.  Medical apps aimed at clinicians are consequently becoming widespread, but there are many apps targeted at patients specifically that may be of use to investigate.

As health information on the internet can be incorrect or easily misinterpreted by patients, the same is true for apps. Patients who are pro-active about their care will seek the use of apps on their personal devices, so clinicians may wish to guide them towards ones they have personally tested and recommend.

Livingston recommends a number of apps, such as Tweetwhatyoueat for weight loss and iPregnancy for pregnant patients.

“So will physicians recommend apps to patients?  Absolutely!  Give us something worthwhile and we will be all over it. We ask very little in return – make our lives easier and make the care we provide better” says Livingston.

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