Over winter break, I had the misfortune to tear my ACL while skiing. That meant surgical reconstruction, as well as a host of appointments at different doctors. I was impressed when the hematologist/oncologist gave me a sheet to sign up for My Care Plus Online.

Through that site, I’m able to view Lab Results, Medications and Diagnoses, all on an online dashboard. I think it’s important to mention that the average age of the patient there was 75 and diagnosed with cancer. I’m sure not all of them use this dashboard, but I can imagine that for those that do, it helps clarify sometimes confusing results and treatments for them, family, and caretakers.

Doctors use iPads to explain surgical procedures to patient, and also to distract children during exams. Image via maclife.com

This got me thinking about how apps can improve the medical process for patients. Not for doctors, there are plenty of apps for that (instead of consulting a big book of medications, my doctor simply pulls up the information on an app), but for patients. Doctors already use iPads to distract pediatric patients waiting for surgery, as well as visually explain surgery to nervous parents. I think we can go a step beyond distraction into actually helping the healing process. There are a lot of moving parts in post-surgical recovery, and apps might ease some of the difficulties. 

Some of the features that I would love to make it into an app:

  • A timer that displays the optimum time to use ice to reduce swelling.
  • Alarms for taking medications, that give visual cues to make sure you’re taking the right pills.
  • Physical therapy exercises, Sworkit style.
  • A secure place to hold all prescription information.
  • Somewhere to plug in symptoms, that tells you if you need to seek further medical attention.
  • And finally, a digital form of a medical alert bracelet to hold allergy information, as well as emergency contact numbers.

Most important of all of these is a user-friendly design, that anyone from kids to the elderly can use. App-savvy twenty-somethings aren’t the only people who undergo surgery. 

By developing apps to help the other side of medical care–patients– we can help ease the recovery process during an already stressful time.

Have you used any apps that helped you during a healthcare crisis?  How helpful were they?  Share in the comments.