Oh, apps, how did we get along without you – especially now that they really can have life-or-death impact?

In the world of healthcare, consumer mobile phone apps are being used for everything from tracking symptoms to keeping tabs on health and wellness to educating the public to life-saving capabilities (you’ll find some good examples here). California Poison Control System’s new poison education app, Choose Your Poison, is available in English and Spanish and teaches young and old about poison prevention.  iTriage was created by two emergency room doctors to help people answer questions about their ailments and where to go for treatment. Hospital apps can be straightforward: Baptist Health South Florida has introduced its whimsically PineApp (their logo is a pineapple) for iPhone and Android, showing emergency rooms and urgent care centers, wait times and directions. St. Louis Children’s Hospital launched the free Kid Care to help parents assess pediatric symptoms.

Healthcare professionals in the field are using apps to help treat strokes, read ECGs, monitor patients in labor and delivery, transmit key health data to hospitals, expediting lifesaving care. Developers are working on an app to detect cancer more quickly. Doctors are embracing these tools: A new Manhattan Research study says three-quarters of U.S. physicians own some form of Apple device, such as an iPhone, iPad or iPod, with overall smartphone ownership projected to reach 81 percent this year. Tablets, particularly iPads, are turning out to be especially popular with doctors, who find them easy to use.

Oh, and there’s also iScrub, an app aimed at improving hand hygiene among health workers to combat the spread of infection within hospitals. A new study says the app has resulted in better compliance at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Now, that’s some high-tech cleanup!

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