Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

Popular Weight Loss App Ineffective In Achieving Weight Loss

A Cost Effective Fitness Band

In a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers found that overweight and obese patients who used a popular smart phone app (MyFitnessPal) did not lose significant weight after a 6 month trial period. The randomized controlled trial is the first of its kind to demonstrate that well-liked mobile apps may be ineffective for most users.

Two hundred and twelve racially diverse (73% female) patients treated at two UCLA primary care clinics were enrolled in the study. All indicated that they were interested in losing weight and 79% who completed the study indicated that they were “somewhat” or “completely” satisfied with the app, while 92% reported that they’d recommend it to a friend.

Unfortunately, as pleased as the subjects were with the app, there was no statistically significant difference in weight loss between the intervention and control groups. On average, the MyFitnessPal users lost 0.66 lbs  in 6 months.

The authors note:

“Most participants rarely used the app after the first month of the study… Given these results it may not be worth a clinician’s time to prescribe MyFitnessPal to every overweight patient with a smart phone… Our analysis did not show any demographic covariates to be important predictors of app use.”

This study serves as a reminder that “popular” and “effective” do not always go hand-in-hand when it comes to weight loss interventions. While mHealth apps are expected to earn $26 billion by 2017, one is left to wonder if this money will be well spent or if we’ll all be “somewhat to completely satisfied” with the apps without anything medically significant to show for it?

New App Allows Patients To Directly E-mail Their Physicians

Group Health, a Seattle, Washington based nonprofit healthcare organization has launched a medical app for their members that offers a wide variety of features — even allowing members to directly e-mail their physicians.

This should come as no surprise to those who have been following this revered Health Co-op.  They have been featured by the NY Times, CNN, and other medical publications due to their innovative approach to patient care — such as embracing electronic medical records before everyone jumped on the bandwagon.

Some of the other interesting features this app will offer their patients: mobile access to medical records, which means a member can check their test results, making appointments, check immunization histories, view summaries of past visits, get routine care reminders and view their allergies and other  health conditions.

Additionally, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

Mobile Application Shown To Enhance Diabetes Care

It seems intuitive (at least to Medgadgeteers) that mobile technology can be used to improve health outcomes, but we still need studies to actually put data behind this idea.  A recent study of the DiabetesManager mobile health platform from WellDoc is a step in this direction. We last reported about WellDoc’s mobile diabetes application in 2010, and since that time it has been tested in a clinical trial and was shown to reduce HgbA1c by 1.9%.

The DiabetesManager is a behavioral coaching and clinical decision support system.  Patients enter details about blood glucose values, medications, and behaviors via mobile phone, and health care providers receive quarterly summaries based on this information. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

NLM Launches Mobile-Friendly PubMed Search App

Recently, we reviewed six medical apps for the iPhone and iPad that promised mobile PubMed searches — an essential functionality since the website is extremely difficult to view on a smart phone. As of last week, this is no longer the case. The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) just launched a mobile friendly version of last week.

The Web App they have created is currently in beta, and as of this publish date, if you go to on your smart phone’s browser you will still be directed to the original non-mobile friendly website. However, if you point your phone’s browser to the following URL,, you are presented with the mobile version of the site.

The National Library of Medicine states the significant increase in mobile browsing for medical content is one of the key reasons they released this mobile web app. The folks at the NLM already have a plethora of mobile medical web apps available, such as the recently added MedLine Plus.

Continue on to see pictures of the PubMed app in action. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »