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Smartphone Self-Care

Patients can have a better healthcare experience through taking charge of their own health and getting more medical care than if they relied solely on in-office care. Thanks to accessible technology this form of self-treating is now possible. Apps using AI can provide patients with the ability to manage chronic diseases and life-impacting conditions.

  • Alzheimer’s patients and those at risk can play brain games, such as those from Lumosity and Clevermind.
  • Overweight patients can track diet, physical activity, and weight with apps such as Lark.
  • Individuals with diabetes or hypertension can track, respectively, blood sugar and blood pressure, with apps such as Glucosio.
  • Are you expecting? Pregnant women can track the progress of their pregnancies with apps such as Ovia Pregnancy Tracker. If you are a woman who is trying to get pregnant you can also use Ovia’s Fertility Tracker & Ovulation Calculator

These are just a few applications available for those looking to take on some of their own healthcare management. Here is a great article on 25 self-help apps that you need to know if you are interested in learning about what else is out there.

This ability to have access to self-care would not be possible without smartphone technology. It is no secret that humans have been chasing the fantasy of eternal youth. As populations continue to educate themselves on the latest health and wellness practices alongside the continued advancements in technology, it only makes sense that communities have developed a need for these applications.

With people living longer, health care providers are in a race to keep up with patient needs. Self-care apps and easy access information via the internet has only begun to alleviate this pain point.

Technology now infiltrating the health industry, it is important for users to do their research and make sure the devices and applications they are using are safe and trusted. Users are essentially taking health advice and potentially following medical instructions from sources outside their doctors’ office. How is this industry being regulated? Which Canadian organization should be responsible for bringing these applications to compliance?

You might know that Health Canada is the governing body responsible for regulating all prescription drugs sold in Canada but they also regulate ‘vitamins and minerals, probiotics, pain and allergy medications, sunscreens, makeup, skin moisturizers, and deodorants that you can purchase at a pharmacy, grocery store, or other retail location without a prescription from your doctor’, ( Health Canada is the same governing body that manages and grants all medical device licensing. This includes mobile applications ‘that aid in the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions’, used by both medical professionals and consumers. Wilson Kwong from CMAJgroup writes “lower-risk apps, such as those that monitor weight to encourage healthy living, do not require a license. But they still must comply with regulations and are subject to enforcement by Health Canada”. In theory, all Canadians should be able to trust the self-care apps on the market based on this monitoring process.

If an app is available for download or purchase and it is only in the process of applying for the license, Health Canada has the authority to remove the app from the market. You can read more about how the medical devices and software are classified in the application process here.


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