“This is my favorite of the disease activity calculators for iOS (iPhone),” Dr. Sufka says. “The in-app upgrade for a number of other useful calculators is $2 and is highly worth it.”
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HealthTap (free; iPhone, iPad, Android): This app creates a digital village of doctors who field questions from patients, with the disclaimer that they’re not providing medical advice and that patients should seek their own health professional.
The app—and website—has generated coverage by the mainstream national media. So far, almost 2 million questions have been answered, according to HealthTap.
To answer questions, users must be verified physicians.
Still, the app should be approached with caution, Dr. Sufka says.
“I’m a bit wary of a place where I might be providing medical advice to a patient I haven’t met in person and might not have all of their information,” he says.
Tracy Lovell, MD, a rheumatologist with the Northeast Georgia Diagnostic Clinic, Gainesville, Ga., who has posted answers on HealthTap, says she participates carefully.
“You always recommend that they see a health-care provider,” she says.
But she says, “it’s just nice to be able to help and educate patients.” Plus, for a doctor who might be new to an area, particularly a tech-savvy area, posting on the app might help get his or her name out.
“You’re trying to get your presence out and about, so it is a good marketing (tool),” she says.
MyRA (free; iPhone, iPad, iPod touch): Because information about pain and disease activity is crucial for rheumatologists to treat their patients optimally, it makes sense for patients to have a tool that makes it easy for them to keep tabs on their disease activity and report it to their rheumatologist.
MyRA sets out to do this. If patients have severe pain in the knee, they can tap a dot for that, until the dot turns red, denoting a high pain level. If the pain is mild, then fewer taps will do, and the dot can be, say, green.
Patients, in this way, can also record fatigue, functionality, stiffness and other important parameters. Then, at a glance, they can see how they’ve done over a period of time, with an array of colors populating a calendar. The doctor can see how they’ve done, too.
A two-page summary can be printed and brought to appointments.
Dr. Bhana says the app “does a decent job in keeping the patients mindful of their condition and enables a better dialogue between patient and physician.”