Healthcare now just a mobile app away
, TNN|Sep 1, 2013, 01.09AM IST

HYDERABAD: For those trying hard to keep a check on their weight, the ideal diet plan could now be just an app away. With the smartphone steadily making its way into every urban household, healthcare applications are becoming must-haves for both android as well as iphone operating systems.

Among them are smartphone apps like 'Diet Assistant' and 'Calorie Counter' that have become a hit with the city's health conscious crowd. All they need to do is select the most appropriate diet plan from the app list and lose/gain weight accordingly to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Realising the untapped market potential of the 'healthcare app' sector, many Hyderabad-based tech firms have now joined the fray to develop such tools to cater to doctors as well as patients. City-based tech firm Switch, for instance, has developed the Pharmacology app, which is a guide of over 300 most frequently prescribed drugs. The app is useful to not just doctors and medical students but also regular users who can, at the touch of a button, search for relevant drug names, medications and corresponding ailments.

Switch has also designed 'Epartogram', an app which alerts medical staff to check critical biological parameters like sugar, urine etc of a pregnant woman. The app is currently being used in India, Bangladesh and Kenya. "There is huge potential to develop mobile technology to serve the healthcare sector. A few years down the line, such applications will be seen as a lifestyle necessity," said Arun Kumar Cheela, managing director of Switch.

eHealth access, another firm from Hyderabad, recently developed a smartphone app called 'Best Doctor' which connects the user to the nearest doctor based on the medical requirement. Users have access to 600 doctors from across the country and can be connected to the nearest relevant doctor in a matter of seconds. Currently a paid app, the firm is looking for ways to make it available in app stores for free.

"The sole purpose of the app is to ensure that the patient is given timely treatment or at least consultation, especially in emergency cases. Since the app has doctors from across the country, the person can access a doctor immediately even when travelling," said Jayadeep Reddy, CEO of eHealth access.

Launched a few weeks ago, 'Neuros', which was designed by Hyderabad-based engineers, brings in the added feature of social networking. The app provides a platform to healthcare professionals for discussions, news feeds and interactions.

Even though the virtual market is flooded with a variety of options, a user-friendly interface and an uncluttered design is what makes an app viable for most customers. "I was searching for something that would help me make my own diet plan without restricting me to unpalatable meals. The app shows a progress chart to check whether I'm moving at an optimum pace or not," said Snehalata Laxmi, 27, who has been using the Diet Assistant app for the past few months.

Doctors though, while lauding the entry of mobile technology into healthcare, said it must not be used as a tool for self medication. "Apps cannot be a substitute for actual doctors' advice or medical treatment. They must be used as tools of information to empower the patient or user," said Dr Chetan Bhawani, a dentist from Hyderabad who writes on medicine and technology. "Using mobile apps for healthcare is pro-patient and must be promoted in the right manner," he added.