'my health apps' - March 2015

Welcome to our all-new monthly spotlight on an organisation or resource that can help us all in our quest for better health!

The March spotlight's on......'my health apps' website

Read on for all the details and/or download your personal copy here

What is it?

‘my health apps’ is a website featuring a collection of health related apps ‘tried and tested by people like you’, as the strapline to the site explains.  The site is an educational resource provided by an independent UK company called ‘Patient Voice’, who specialise in ensuring the user voice is heard in all aspects of healthcare. Their work includes providing advice and resource on what people want from their healthcare and in particular from technology and help to improve this. The company has offices in the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands and work with organisations and individuals, to help provide trustworthy, convenient information about the apps available to help with health – as they say, the site provides ‘the best healthcare apps, recommended by empowered consumers, patients and carers’.

Each app featured on the website is accompanied by testimony from organisations or individuals, and given ‘heart ratings’, according to what they like most about the app.  There can be up to 5 ‘hearts’ awarded,  using the following criteria:  helps to control your condition; trustworthy; easy to use; gives the chance to network with others; can use regularly.  This feature gives an instant visual idea of what is liked most in an individual app.  Other information about the app includes its developer, country of origin, languages it is available in and its cost.

The apps included on the website are ordered according to a wide range of different categories of health – arranged on the home page and ranging from ‘bones and muscles’ through ‘staying healthy’, ‘mental health’,  ‘sexual health’ to ‘other long term conditions’ and many others in between!

Selecting the category of your choice, brings up a sub menu of topics – for example, diabetes is included in ‘other long term conditions’, anxiety is included in ‘mental health’, etc, which means that it is really easy to navigate to the apps that relate to the condition you need. You can then order the apps included in your category by alphabet, number of ‘heart’ ratings, cost, language and platform.  Once you’ve narrowed down in this way, you can investigate each individual app’s details, including more reviews and which ‘hearts’ it covers, and make your choice!

How can it help me with living with diabetes?

People often say how difficult it is to make sense of the vast array of information about diabetes, including support tools such as apps – which are reliable? how well do they work?, for example.  This website provides some answers and makes it easier to filter what’s available, and gain reliable testimony from those who’ve tested them out.  It could be a really useful ‘cross reference’ for apps that you’ve seen elsewhere, too.

‘my health apps’ also covers many other aspects of health that might affect, or be affected by your diabetes, for example, digestive disorders such as coeliac disease or heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation.  There are sections with apps relating to ‘staying healthy’ and ‘me and my doctor’, which both feature heavily in living with diabetes. In this way, the website is a kind of ‘one stop shop’ for helping yourself.

You can also submit apps for inclusion on the website, so if your favourite one isn’t featured, you can let the team know.  There’s a section for developers, so if you have an idea or have built an app to help you in living with diabetes, there’s opportunity for that, too. Patient Voices want to alert developers to what apps people need and want.

How can it help me with working with diabetes?

It’s becoming a bit of a theme, but these apps can help healthcare staff as much as anybody, to stay healthy or deal with your personal health related conditions – the website is for everyone, so do try it yourself!

Apart from that, you can reliably recommend the site to people, because it is endorsed by NHS Choices and carefully edited by a reliable company.

Knowing about ‘my health apps’ could also give you the opportunity of starting a conversation with people (in consultations, clinics or education sessions, for example) about the apps they use, prefer or maybe would like to see developed.  This is an area that people, especially young adults, say is not always explored with them, and also that healthcare staff are not always confident they understand enough to broach the subject.  So, the site can help on both counts!

Our 3 top reasons to give  a try:

1.    It’s very quick and easy to access and navigate

2.    The ‘hearts’ rating system helps give a personal view

3.    It includes apps for both mental and physical health

Any down sides?

As ever, just a couple of small things:

1.    Some of the diabetes-related apps are American or European, making the terminology or measurements (eg HbA1c) different from those in the UK, so this is worth bearing in mind

2.    It’s useful to remember that hearts are given for what is liked most about the app, so, for example, where the ‘is trustworthy’ heart rating is not given, it doesn’t mean it’s ‘untrustworthy’!

That’s it for now! Hope you like our take on 'my health apps' and watch out for another ‘Self Health Spotlight’ in April!

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