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As the COVID-19 pandemic goes on, technology has come to mitigate the burden of lockdown, to manage stress, to assist healthcare providers in rendering medical services and stopping the outbreak. App usage is reported to surge 40 % amid the pandemic. However, the stats on apps usage vary across countries with time spent in apps growing 15 % in the U.S. and 30 % in Italy. In anticipation of another COVID-19 wave, we have looked at top 5 healthcare-related apps that might be useful to manage health-related aspects.

1. Wellness apps 

Calm, meditation and sleep and relaxation app, was downloaded 3.9 million times in April 2020 in the U.S. alone. The app features include such options as meditation skills, getting more restful sleep, relaxing music, mindful movement skills, viewing nature scenes to relax, etc. Calm offers hundreds of hours of original audio content in six languages and serves users in more than 190 countries. Calm app was made available to the clients of Kaiser Permanente, one of the biggest healthcare providers in the U.S., free of charge. Earlier, a poll by Kaiser Family Foundation had revealed that 56%  of U.S. adults considered stress or worry caused by the coronavirus pandemic to lead to at least one negative effect on their mental health. Among mental health issues related to the COVID-19 outbreak, the respondents mentioned problems with sleeping and eating,  worsening chronic conditions. This poll also reported increased stress and worry to affect many healthcare workers and their family members (64%). Apart from Calm, myStrength app was put at fingertips of Kaiser Permanente’s members to get mental and emotional health care on the days of the pandemic at no costs, as well.  

As we all continue to grapple with the uncertainty, stress, and sometimes fear brought on by COVID-19, it’s essential that we tend to our physical and mental health. We know mindfulness meditation can support emotional well-being, and the Calm app is a great way for people to learn life-changing skills to reduce anxiety, be more resilient, and make self-care a priority,” said Don Mordecai, MD, psychiatrist and national leader for mental health and wellness at Kaiser Permanente.

Source: www.weforum.org

 

2. Fitness apps

 

During lockdown, gyms and other sports and fitness facilities had to increase their digital presence. 

Source: https://sensortower.com

MyFitnessPal, an app to track diet and exercise, was number one fitness category app worldwide by overall revenue in June. The app offers its users a calories counter, plans and receipt to start a diet, change eating habits and tone up got profit of $6.7 million with 61% of the revenue coming from the U.S. and 12.6 % from Great Britain.  What is peculiar about the pandemic is that many sports equipment vendors have been left no other choice that to adopt digitalization. Peloton, an American exercise equipment manufacturer, offers its app with a free 90-day trial subscription enabling classes in yoga, cardio workout, and strength training.

3. Telehealth apps

During the COVID-19 outbreak, healthcare providers insist on the use of telehealth services rather than having an appointment in a medical office. It’s extremely important to protect both patients and healthcare workers. Thus, during the first week of March 2020, Mayo Clinic, one of the biggest medical and research centres worldwide, saw a 200 % increase in time spent in its app on Android in the U.S. over a week alone. The app provides users with options to manage appointments, secure their messaging with healthcare professionals, get express care online or expert advice, view test results, etc. 

“Telehealth allows the same quality level of care that a patient would receive seeing a provider face-to-face, but instead performed in real-time video-audio communication,” says Pamela Hoffman, MD, the medical director for telehealth services for Yale School of Medicine. 

Telehealth is ideal for people with minor medical concerns or vulnerable individuals and for those with mild symptoms of COVID-19 but no need in emergency care. On the other hand, telehealth apps are the right tool to manage your health issues without physical attendance of healthcare facilities and risk to contract the virus. Here are some examples of virtual care apps. 

Teladoc is one of the leading telehealth services, with an app and online portal providing patients with everyday care related to sinus and respiratory infections, flu symptoms, allergies, and rashes. If needed, patients can receive prescriptions to their preferred pharmacies. Teladoc also emphasizes dermatology and mental healthcare for ongoing treatment. Users may select and have an online appointment with the same therapist or psychiatrist on each visit. 

MDLIVE covers urgent care, behavioural health, and dermatology with focusing the users’ attention on health literacy. For example, many of the urgent medical issues covered by MDLIVE, like flu, sore throatcough, and fever, cannot be treated with an antibiotic, because these ailments are typically caused by viruses and not bacteria with minor exceptions to the rule. The app also ensures counselling and medication management for many mental problems like, inter alia trauma support, and dermatology issues from insect bites to hair loss.

4. Symptoms monitoring apps

One of the global apps to check COVID-19 symptoms is Screening Tool app developed by Apple and available for all iPhone users worldwide. The app identifies if the user is experiencing novel coronavirus symptoms and is exposed to risks associated with travelling amid the pandemic and chronic conditions of the user. Similar apps were launched in Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, Singapore, and other countries. 

Generally, they ask a number of diagnostic questions related to COVID-19 symptoms, like cough, fever, contact with infected individuals and refer users to hospitals or provide useful information accordingly. Thus, the symptoms monitoring app in the United Kingdom revealed that 1 in 10 people had the novel coronavirus symptoms. The app called C-19 COVID Symptom Tracker was downloaded 650,000 times on day of launching. In Germany, an advanced Corona-Datenspende app is able to automatically collect users’ biometrics like temperature and pulse via smartwatches or smart bands to assess if the user may have contracted COVID-19 or not. 

5. Contact tracing apps

Actually, contact tracing apps are the most contradictory and ambiguous digital healthcare tool developed to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. Would governments use these data to track movements of individuals? Would our privacy be posed to danger through ongoing phone location tracking? There was even discussion about an international standard for contact tracing apps. In this regards, Apple and Google agreed to present a comprehensive solution that includes application programming interfaces and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing. 

Then, Singapore launched its Trace Together app with an advanced use of Bluetooth proximity tracking and many countries, including Israel,  Australia, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Iceland, etc, jump on this bandwagon. Singapore was the first country, which enabled Bluetooth-assisted contract tracing when users had crossed paths would they have been identified, and data was not transferred and stored to any online server.

Bottomline

Viewing apps that are to a larger or smaller extent related to current healthcare issues, we can definitely say that governments, individuals and businesses have become proactive amid the pandemic. Capitalizing on healthcare apps development trend seems to be the right way out for businesses having no other choice than to go digital. 

On the other hand, apps ensure a multi-faceted approach for healthcare providers and governments to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak. When it comes to the benefits of users, at least, they can be sure that they are not alone with their health problems. If there is a medical problem, there is an app to solve it.

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