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How to Choose the Best Mobile Health Apps

In my opinion, one of the best things about smartphones is the plethora of mobile health apps available in the app market to download. I think it’s fantastic that there’s so many ways we can take control of our own health, or monitor our health status with our phones to share with our health care providers. Did you know that in an emergency your health data from your mobile health apps in apple health can be accessed from your lock screen?  Digital health is an important part of our own patient care and there’s literally a mobile health app for just about everything health related you can think of! I did a search for health apps in the app store and I found apps that will help you: quit smoking, relax/meditate, find allergy friendly restaurants, interpret the ingredients in food products, and apps that will help track your: sleep, calories, macros, workouts, blood sugar levels, heart rate etc.

When I got my first smartphone over 5 years ago my husband and I were considering expanding our family, so naturally the first mobile health app I downloaded was Period Tracker. While obviously the results from that download was great (her name is Amber and she’s now an amazing 5 yr old), not all the health apps out there are created equal, some are amazing, while others quite truthfully downright suck.

How to choose the BEST mobile health apps - take the guesswork out of finding health apps with these great tips!

So from my own trial and error, here are some tips to use that will help you choose the best mobile health apps:

Tip #1 – Make a list of the health metrics you want to track
The health apps you choose to add to your phone should closely match your health goals.  Do you want to sleep better? Lose weight? Take control of anxiety? Find out when you’re the most fertile?  There’s quite literally a mobile health app for any health metric you can think of.  Once you know what your goals are you can begin searching with the rest of the tips below.

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Tip #2 – Ask around on social media for suggestions
Crowd sourcing is my favourite way to find great apps.  I ask around on Twitter, in chat groups, and even on facebook.  Chances are someone has already tried out several apps related to your goals and have found one they like already.

Tip #3 – Search for multiple search terms related to your health goals in the app market
Once you’ve figured out your health goals the best way to find apps that will help you is to try searching with multiple terms or keywords related to that goal.  For example, if you want to quit smoking you could search for “quit smoking”, “stop smoking”, “smoking cessation” etc.  

Tip #4 – Research the apps
Once you’ve found some apps related to your goals research them, and research the app developer. Search for unbiased reviews of the apps, review the scientific literature, and even look for reviews by doctors..   What have other users rated the app?  What reviews have other users left?  There have been many apps I have chosen not to download simply because although the star rating was high, the actual written reviews were horrendous.

Tip #5 – Be persistent and pilot the apps
Trying out several apps at the same time can help you to truly find the right app for you.  There’s often very little logic to it, but when it comes to searching, persistence pays.

In this day and age digital health tools such as mobile health apps can be very beneficial to you and your family.  They can help your primary care physician in providing care to you.  If you record things like what you eat, how active you are, how long you sleep etc. your doctor can help diagnose or rule out things that could be affecting your health.  As I mentioned earlier, even in an emergency your health data can be accessed from your lock screen.  Hopefully these tips will help you as you search for, and choose the best mobile health apps for you!

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Better Health Together

To raise awareness about digital health and the benefits of digital health to Canadian families, November 16th – 22nd will be Digital Health Week.  Patients, governments, health care associations and clinicians are working together to make our care better, today, with digital health.  From November 16-22, 2015, think digital health and discover how digital health is making a difference for you and your families.

You can take part by:

  • Joining an online event
  • Sharing an image on the Better Health Togother Facebook page or on Twitter using hashtag #thinkdigitalhealth about what digital health means to you
  • Posting a selfie (team or individual) with the hashtag #thinkdigitalhealth to show the many different faces behind digital health
  • Uploading a Digital Health Week badge to your social media profile image to show your support, or
  • Spreading the word to your friends, family and colleagues

What are your favourite mobile health apps?

Share your apps in the comments below and visit the Better Health Together website to learn more about digital health!

Although this post has been generously sponsored by Canada Health Infoway, the opinions and language are my own.

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  • Kalliopi
    November 16, 2015 at 11:36 am

    Very informational post! We see so many apps popping up and most of them are not worth it!You article helped a lot!

  • Cathy
    November 16, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    My fav’s are:

    RunMeter for tracking all my run routes, times, paces and even shoe wear!
    My Fitness Pal for tracking my food, nutrients and exercise.
    And FitBit for even more detail on my workouts like heart race and steps.

  • Marcia
    November 17, 2015 at 10:42 am

    I use Runkeeper, My Fitness Pal and a whole bunch of workout ones.

  • Debbie @ Coach Debbie Runs
    November 17, 2015 at 10:47 am

    There are so many health tracking apps out there. Too many really. I usually just use a running log (and before my Fitbit died, I used that too). Currently for work, we’re using the My Wellness app, which tracks your workout on Technogym equipment. I mostly just use it to convince our members that they should use it too 🙂

  • Chrissy @ Snacking in Sneakers
    November 17, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    Great tips. One of my favorite apps is more of a fitness one than health, but it’s the wahoo fitness 7 minute workout. It’s just a fun and simple 7 minute circuit workout but I love it!

  • Tricia@MissSippipiddlin
    November 17, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    Oh goodness, I use MapmyRun, Fitbit app, My fitness pal, (when I am needing to log my food) I also have Pact where I earn money for my workouts.

  • jill conyers
    November 17, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    I don’t use mobile health apps but it looks like maybe I should.

  • Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home
    November 17, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    I use a lot of running apps, but as a nurse practitioner, I use a lot of medical apps. One of my faves, and my teenage patients just love it, is my scoliometer! Helps me to to determine if a patient has a curve in their spine and how curvy it is!

    • Janice
      November 17, 2015 at 8:32 pm

      Oh that sounds like a really neat app!

  • Nicole @ Fitful Focus
    November 17, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    I use MyFitnessPal when I need to get back on track with healthy eating. And then I have a few workout apps for putting together quick at-home workouts when I can’t make it to the gym. Nike Training Club is a great one!

  • Patty @ Reach Your Peak
    November 18, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    great tips! I need to use more of my mobile apps. I just got a fitbit actually and really like the app that you can download. I need to use myfitnesspal more to track my nutrition..that is where I’m MAJORLY slacking.

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