February 26, 2014
The Revolutionary App For Health
The world of apps seems to have everything pretty much covered and there is not much a human can do that doesn’t have an app to aid, enhance, or mimic it. Their use has become so commonplace that we don’t even think about it. I set a stopwatch to time that perfectly cooked salmon steak, check the weather or stock prices, browse the news headlines, write a few notes, or try reading that free classic book I downloaded from Kindle for the 17th time, all with free apps. The number of apps available is now over half a million and counting, but the kingdom of the app is covering relatively new ground – the health and fitness world. One in particular has a very serious purpose and could have a lot of benefits for the measuring and monitoring of disease on a global scale.
The ClickClininca app is aimed squarely at health professionals. My doctor routinely uses the Internet to access and even print information for me when needed. He checks up on test results, reports, and existing medical information on his computer as well as logging our meetings and outcomes in real-time as we speak. But sometimes he resorts to the old-fashioned method of paper and print when he checks out clinical guidelines or the correct dosage of a new medication. Developed at the UK’s Liverpool University, ClickClinica, which is free to doctors, aims to combine those clinical guidelines, which are available from a number of sources, into one digital vault. Those sources include the World Health Organization, NICE (the National Institute for Clinical Excellence), and many more. Doctors hope that this will streamline their search for guidance on medical best practice.
The wider and more exciting use of ClickClinica, however, is in its potential use as means of recording, monitoring, and measuring national and global medical information as it happens. The idea is that the doctor, using a “single click,” records the patient’s symptoms and treatment at the time of the appointment. This information is then added immediately to the global database which researchers then use to identify and track trends and potential problems in disease around the world.
According to a report in the Guardian newspaper, although ClickClinica is in its early days, there have already been notable success stories in the way individual diagnoses in different places are collated immediately and trends detected. In the UK, for example, the app picked up that there had been three new cases of TB and five other serious brain infections. The level of detail that is recorded will determine the degree to which the process is used to improve health provision and monitor the quality of care. The best example that I see so far is that, in its first month of use, the app recorded 48 cases of heart attacks in the UK but, more importantly, also reported that the vast majority of those did not get to hospital speedily enough to get the drugs and treatment they needed urgently, the very treatment that could save lives. So it is easy to see that this is one app that could actually save lives in the long-term if the information base grows and the lessons learned are used to improve healthcare on the front line. The developers call their brainchild “evolutionary and revolutionary,” and for once the hype might just be right.
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