By Nancy Meredith
Physicians are known for keeping long hours and for being on call and available to their hospital, their patients, and even their families. In the past, that meant dropping whatever they were doing to immediately head to the hospital for a consultation. However, in this day of Wi-Fi, smartphones and iPhones, doctors can use the technology to stay where they are and access critical medical information including patient records, patient monitoring systems and key medical reference material. The use of mobile phone apps is making a difference in the ability of physicians to be responsive, and can be extremely beneficial for oncologists maintaining watch over their critically ill patients with mesothelioma, lung cancer or other cancers.
Mesothelioma is an asbestos-caused cancer that is highly aggressive and is resistant to standard cancer treatments. As a result, patients are often closely monitored to allow their oncologist to quickly change treatments to prevent the disease from progressing to causing life-threatening complications. Since the doctor cannot always be near the patient or the hospital, a phone app with a patient monitoring capability is the next best thing.
Doctors Readily Adopt the New Technology
In a study by Manhattan Research, the authors found that seventy-five percent of U.S. physicians own some form of Apple device, and that they are quickly embracing the technology for use in their practice. “Physicians also express strong interest in being able to access electronic medical records through the iPad – as more EMR [electronic medical record] providers offer this ability, iPad accessibility may be a deciding factor for some practices when selecting an EMR provider,” said Meredith Ressi, president of Manhattan Research.
The ability to use mobile devices in their profession to assist their patients and colleagues has spawned a plethora of apps. In fact, over 6,000 medical apps are available today, according to Dr. Itifat Hussain, founder of iMedicalapps.com. Apps exist for patient support, educational purposes, drug references, to use as medical calculators and even to translate medical terms to foreign languages. While not all of them are useful or practical for physicians, it is important that physicians stay aware of the latest offerings.
Apps Provide Help to the Oncologist
As support to the “untethered physician,” Hussain and his team of physicians and medical students provide commentary and reviews of mobile medical technology and applications on iMedicalapps.com. The top app they recommend is from MedScape.
The app is critical for physicians treating mesothelioma patients to stay abreast of the latest clinical information, to learn more about the disease from key medical articles and to use the “powerful drug interaction checker” to help prevent patient toxicity. With the number of medicines a mesothelioma patient often takes, a pocket drug reference guide can allow the doctor to make quick decisions should an issue arise.
Some apps specific to oncology and useful for mesothelioma patients and their physicians, listed on iMedicalApps.com, include:
- Cancer.net – this app is for the cancer patient and offers reference material and the ability to store questions, as well as suggesting questions for the patient to ask.
- Mobile MIM viewer – the first FDA approved mobile DICOM (CT & MRI) images viewer.
- Mobile mini NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) device – operated by a smart phone to detect cancer cells in under one hour (from Harvard and MIT researchers).
- Cancer Trials App – oncologists can find information on cancer clinical trials that could be relevant to their patients.