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Explore This IssueApril 2014
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Have your patients closely monitor their pain levels—with a series of taps. Keep a list of articles from medical journals you want to read—and have them laid out instantly in a digital magazine format. Calculate disease scores—on the fly with the touch of a screen.
It’s good, old-fashioned medicine done the new-fashioned way.
With apps, of course.
The available sea of apps for rheumatologists—those specific to the specialty and others that just make it easier for all doctors to do their jobs—is widening inexorably. So we asked some tech-savvy doctors for their thoughts on a few notable apps and to point us to others that are highlight worthy. It’s an update to a rundown of apps we previously published (“Apps Put More Rheumatology Information at Fingertips,” June 2012).
Apps are becoming so infused into the practice of medicine that, in September 2013, the FDA announced that it will begin regulating mobile medical apps, treating them as medical devices. The FDA describes these apps as those intended to be used as accessories to a regulated medical device, or those that transform a smartphone itself into a medical device, with the use of such things as light, vibrations or a camera.
The FDA also announced that it is beginning to exercise “enforcement discretion” over apps that do such things as help patients self-manage disease, communicate their condition, provide easy access to information on medical conditions and provide an easy way to access medical health records.
Apps named by rheumatologists tend to be skewed toward the iPhone and iPad, which is in keeping with apps for those devices outnumbering Android apps by about a 3-to-1 margin, although technology observers say that gap is closing.
Here are some apps to keep on your radar screen (and, if you prefer, your smartphone screen):
DAS Calculator (free; upgrade for more formulas, $1.99; iPhone, iPad, iPod touch): This app allows for quick calculation of disease activity scores, with a clean look and simple, odometer-style wheels to input variables.
The free version comes with DAS 28. The upgrade comes with formulas for Clinical Disease Activity Index (CDAI), Simple Disease Activity Index (SDAI) and Routine Assessment of Patient Index Data (RAPID 3).
Paul Sufka, MD, a rheumatologist with HealthPartners in St. Paul, Minn., and who produces a rheumatology podcast with Suleman Bhana, MD, a rheumatologist with the Atlantic Health System in New Jersey, says this is his choice when calculating these scores.