Do you remember a few years ago when all we heard was “there’s an app for that?” Apple wanted to convince of us it so badly they actually had the slogan trademarked in 2010. It appears they were right; our computers, tablets and phones can hand us electronic solutions for almost any issue or predicament we find ourselves in these days. Nowhere is this technology taking off more rapidly than in the field of medicine, specifically in the subspecialty of dermatology. Researchers have found over 200 dermatology apps, although only a few are made for medical professionals. The study searched Apple, Android, Blackberry, Nokia and Windows app stores for products related to dermatology and found 209 apps, with over half of them made for non-doctors.
In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced that it will regulate a subset of medical apps intended for doctors, including apps that can be “be used as an accessory to a regulated medical device” such as ones that would allow a doctor to make a diagnosis based on a photo sent via the app. Some of these apps include: sunscreen recommendation guides, mole photo storage apps, and tools meant to diagnose melanoma. The most frequently reviewed apps made for the general public included:
- Ultraviolet – UV Index – The app shows the UV index for the user’s current location and currently has the highest reviewer ranking at between 4 and 5 on a 5-star scale.
- SPF – The app calculates how much time a user can be in the sun based on the skin type and the UV index.
- iSore – The app has a directory of skin conditions with a “graphic picture” and treatment information.
- SpotMole – The app is designed to check photos of moles for signs of cancer.
However buyer beware; mobile dermatology applications may help people learn about UV rays or keep tabs on their moles, but they are no substitute for seeing a doctor. “The biggest concern is people getting the wrong information” according to Dr. Robert Dellavalle, a dermatologist at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora.
Dermatologists seem to be in short supply in certain parts of the country so one of the most promising aspects of these apps are the ones that have the ability to connect patients in remote areas to dermatologist through teledermatology. Dr. Karen Edison, who was not involved in the research, said “it’s time to use technology to make us more available”.
“I support the use of technology in getting access to dermatology expertise for patients who would not otherwise have access to that expertise as well as for convenience for patients … if it can be done in a high-quality way that takes patient safety into account.”
She said it’s important for doctors evaluating remote patients to know if they have access to medication or can see a dermatologist in person to do a biopsy, if necessary. That means an app that relies just on sending pictures and diagnoses back and forth, for instance, isn’t likely to be very helpful.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that food allergies in children increased 18% from 1997 to 2007. The top eigh food allergans – milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat – account for more than 90% of those food allergies and sensitvities. (experiencelife.com)
- In 2010 more than one in three children and adolescents in the U.S. was overweight or obese. This rate has doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (experiencelife.com)
- Several recent studies have targeted sleep deprivation as a key obstacle to student success. School-age kids usually need 10-11 hours of sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. (sleepfoundation.org)
- About 70% of antibiotics used in the U.S. today are given to healthy livestock. The practice is contributing to the rise in antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria called superbugs.(pewhealth.org)
- Scientists say running backward is an effective training exercise because it produces less of a shock on joints and uses 30% more energy than running forward at the same pace. (livestrong.com)
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