I found this head to BMJ head debate about health apps between two qualified Doctors, Dr Iltifat Husain (Editor-in-Chief at iMedical Apps) and Dr Des Spence (a GP in Glasgow), so disappointing to read that I checked the article wasn’t dated April 1st.
I discovered in my first few weeks of medical school that there’s no such thing as a normal healthy person (the ones that think they are just haven’t yet been fully investigated at a teaching hospital!) but it’s also important to appreciate that there are many healthy people who have disabilities who rely on mHealth apps (watch this video from 2011 to get an idea how healthy people with visual impairment can use the iPhone) and it should also be obvious to anyone that works with Patients that ‘healthy people’ benefit immensely from apps on their mobiles because they often have roles caring for people who aren’t as fortunate with their health.
It’s important to realise that this might not look like a fancy GPS/NFC/Video enabled Smartphone App or a hack that let’s a paramedic mother continually track her child’s blood glucose during a school day in realtime on her watch. More often it’s something as simple as sending a text (remember SMS is a mobile app – albeit another one that’s now preinstalled and expected by customers to be installed on their phone when they turn it on) to an elderly relative or being easily reachable in a time of need by the widow who lives alone next door and has been woken in the night with what might just be a small worry but one that left unaddressed would’ve kept her from getting any rest.
Healthy people also have a peculiar habit of becoming unhealthy and health apps are fortunately there for them when this happens. This is especially obvious when this happens dramatically eg. the health app that is a legal requirement on every single GSM mobile in use today that ensures that it will seamlessly connect a caller with emergency services even without a network registration/SIM/contract etc, the health app that the paramedic might use to get accurate directions so they can arrive quickly at the scene of a medical emergency, the health app that the Doctor might use to access the prescribing info they need to do their job (see the NICE BNF/BNFC apps), etc. etc.
*** UPDATE 16 April 2015 ***
Links in above: