SPPACES: MEDICAL APP REVIEWS

Four Mobile Apps to Encourage Healthy Habits

 

Recommend these mobile apps to patients as a way to reinforce recommended lifestyle changes.

Fam Pract Manag. 2018 Jan-Feb;25(1):OA1-OA3.

Author disclosure: no relevant financial affiliations disclosed.

The beginning of the new year is a natural time for patients to resolve to change their lifestyles, whether that means eating better, getting more exercise, or being more diligent in following their physician's advice.

Given the ubiquity of mobile devices, patients may ask you to recommend applications that can help them achieve their health goals. But combing through the thousands of available apps is not an easy chore. This article attempts to help by reviewing four useful medical apps using FPM's “SPPACES” app criteria.

APP REVIEW CRITERIA

S – Source or developer of app

P – Platforms available

P – Pertinence to primary care practice

A – Authoritativeness/accuracy/currency of information

C – Cost

E – Ease of use

S – Sponsor(s)

MY DIET COACH

The My Diet Coach app serves as an external motivator for patients to make manageable lifestyle changes.

Source: Anat Levi.

Platforms available: Android; iOS 10.0 or later for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Pertinence to primary care practice: In family medicine, we can encourage patients to lose weight when we see them in our office. However, we are not able to continually remind patients to make good lifestyle choices after they leave. My Diet Coach helps fill this void in patient care.

My Diet Coach lets patients set their own lifestyle goals. Every time patients open the app, they see their reason for trying to lose weight. Patients can use motivational photos, quotes, tricks and tips, and phone reminders to help keep them on track. For example, the app can remind patients to measure their weight, eat more vegetables, drink more water, take the stairs, or fulfill other customized actions. Within the app, patients can log their meals using a barcode scanner, count their calories burned, see how many calories they have left for the day, photograph their meals, and track water intake. With the free version, patients can set one daily challenge, which may be related to physical activity (e.g., going for a walk), eating (e.g., watching serving size), or self-control (e.g., avoiding snacking). As patients continue to meet their daily goals and challenges, their in-app avatar can change in appearance as it loses weight with them. App users can also sign up for a monthly or annual subscription that provides additional coaching features.

Authoritativeness/accuracy/currency of information: No specific sources for the app's information are cited.

Cost: Free for the basic version; $4.99 per month for the “pro” version.

Ease of use: Startup for the app is quick and simple. Patients enter their weight, height, goal weight, baseline activity level, weekly weight loss goal, and motivation for losing weight. Navigating through the app is seamless. The app can also import data automatically from the Apple Health App and FitBit devices. Content within

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Rebedew is a family physician at Monroe Clinic in Albany, Wis., and a faculty member for the University of Illinois Rockford Family Medicine Residency.

Author disclosure: no relevant financial affiliations disclosed.

References

1. Flores MG, Granado-Font E, Ferré-Grau C, Montaña-Carreras X. Mobile phone apps to promote weight loss and increase physical activity: a systemic review and meta-analysis. J Med Internet Res. 2015;17(11):e253.

2. Galsziou P, Bennett J, Greenberg P, et al. Pre-meal water consumption for weight loss. Aust Fam Physician. 2013;42(7):478.

 
 

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