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There’s A Healthcare App For That – Heart and Asthma Monitoring

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An in-home EKG? The New York Times reports a company called Eko may be bringing this healthcare app to market in the fall.

The wireless stethoscopes can transfer a patient’s heart rate and other vital signs directly to Eko’s secure portal, where it can, among other things, be shared with other doctors for a second opinion.

Now they have built something with a potentially larger market: It is the Duo, a digital stethoscope for home use, which could change how heart patients are monitored, the entrepreneurs say. It is scheduled to become available by prescription in the fall.

The product, which fits in your hand, combines electrocardiogram, or E.K.G., readings and heart sounds into a device that allows patients to monitor their health at home and send data to their physicians.

Telemedicine devices and healthcare apps are getting a lot of attention, but there are questions too. Will insurance cover them? Can patients be counted on to use them correctly and consistently? The benefits could be enormous and not just in rural areas. As many LA County Medical Association doctors recognize, access to specialists for Medi-Cal patients is problematic and there are other issues around access in underserved communities. Telemedicine could provide some help.

Dr. Jefferey A. Lieberman of Columbia University recently published his view on what telemedicine could mean for mental health treatment.

The initial idea is to have smartphone-based applications that can perform several functions. One is a monitoring function: having apps that can passively monitor the activities or biologic signals of an individual—whether it is movement, heart rate, respiratory rate, or level of activity—and have an ongoing record that can be catalogued, observed, and interpreted by clinicians. A second function is as a means of communication. Doctors already have begun to employ FaceTime, Skype, and texting to maintain contact with patients remotely in a variety of situations. Another area would be to develop apps that could provide some kind of actual therapeutic assistance, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and supportive types of techniques or protocols when needed. All of these have great potential and can expand the reach of healthcare providers, psychiatrists, and mental health care clinicians, and provide help to a larger proportion of people when they need it.

LACMA physicians are at the cutting edge of healthcare and we want to continue to recognize innovators in the field. If you use telemedicine in your practice or are helping develop a healthcare app, we’d love to hear from you.

Photo by Mia Baker on Unsplash

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