I can envision apps helping patients and families manage a medical care plan.
if I were asked “Why should a clinician prescribe an app?” I would answer as follows:
Because it’s likely to help the patient reach his or her most important health goals, and is a good fit within an over-arching medical management plan.
In other words, if the goal is to provide sensible medical assistance to patients and families, the use of an app should be likely to:
Help a patient work towards the most important medical goals.This means clinician and patient should’ve discussed goals overall, and prioritized which issues are most important for the time being. Since I take care of complex older patients, prioritizing issues is really a must, and then we can set certain goals for the issues we’ve decided to focus on.Be likely to provide benefit or otherwise be clinically useful.This doesn’t mean we always need peer-reviewed studies demonstrating that use of this particular app provided a health benefit.
But there should be some reason to believe using an app will be clinically useful.This could be because the app facilitates collection of data needed to revise the treatment plan, i.e. documents pain, incontinence, sleep patterns, as-needed medication use, etc.Or it could be that the app digitally guides patients through an intervention previously found to be beneficial, such as a home exercise plan.
As with the prescription of a drug, recommending an app should include guidance as to what benefit the patient can expect, as well as a plan for ensuring that the app is delivering benefit as expected.Be a good, feasible fit within an overall management plan.Just as I don’t prescribe a medication in isolation, without considering the patient’s other medical conditions and other prescriptions, I wouldn’t recommend an app in isolation.I find that most patients and families have only so much bandwidth available for daily healthcare management tasks.
So in considering an app I’d also try to be mindful of how many other apps have been recommended, and I’d try to work out an overall plan that was going to be manageable for the patient. After all, there is only so much futzingwith devices that one can do in a given day.