Apple Watch: Cool Healthcare Applications
One: A Password Manager for Clinic and Hospital Use
Between your electronic health record (EHR), picture archiving and communication system (PACS), and prescription drug databases, you probably have to keep a record of quite a few frequently changing passwords. On your own computer and phone browser, there’s no better way to log on to sites than with 1Password, which exists as a browser extension and an app (and syncs passwords securely in the cloud). But for your clinic or hospital’s computers, you often don’t have the access to install new extensions and programs like 1Password, and it’s here that this Apple Watch app really delivers. 1Password displays your desired usernames and passwords with a few taps on your wrist. This works great for locker combinations too.
Pro: Fast, secure, frustration-free access to lots of logins and passwords.
Con: Accessing 1Password on your computer or smartphone is free; on your Apple Watch, you’ll need the “Pro” version, which costs $9.99.
The Latest News and Research in Your Specialty
Do you like medical audio podcasts? You should; they’re a great way to keep on top of news and research in your specialty. And now one of the best podcast apps, Overcast, has a nifty Apple Watch app to control playback. Overcast is particularly useful if you listen to podcasts while walking around or running errands. You might think that controlling the output of your phone from your wrist is too convoluted, but the app is so well designed that it will feel natural to keep the phone in your pocket and reach for your wrist.
Pro: Controls playback of audio podcasts conveniently from your wrist.
Con: You must be familiar with subscribing to podcasts, as well as how to use some of the neat effects that Overcast offers to optimize playback, before fully appreciating what this Apple Watch app can do.
Medication Reminders on Your Wrist
If you have set up the Medication Reminder feature on your WebMD smartphone app, a photo of the medication and its dose will also appear at the appointed time on your Apple Watch, along with a “haptic” (touch-sensitive) tap on your wrist to get your attention. Patients have the option to mark a med as taken or skipped, or they can snooze the alert to appear later. This app is simple but seems incredibly effective. If I spotted a patient with an Apple Watch, I’d be sure to recommend it to keep on top of prescription adherence.
Pro: Intuitive system for reminding to take medications and logging adherence.
Con: Setting up this app for a multidrug regimen requires some extra steps.
Instant PowerPoint Presentations
With Apple’s AirPlay feature or adapters, you can wirelessly stream slide presentations directly from your iPhone. This can be really convenient—except for the part about having to reach for your phone to advance slides. Now there are Apple Watch apps for both the Microsoft PowerPoint and Apple Keynote presentation programs, letting you advance to the next slide in a natural motion by tapping on your wrist. Make sure your watch is set to wake up with the last app used rather than with the clock face, or you’ll have to hunt and peck for the PowerPoint or Keynote app every time you want to advance a slide.
Pro: A slick way to manage a spontaneous presentation with tools (ie, the iPhone and Apple Watch) you already have on you.
Con: Controlling a slide deck from the Apple Watch is still probably not as efficient, or discrete, as buying a $20 WiFi/USB slide controller and keeping a laptop handy.
Diet Management at a Glance
The Apple Watch has considerable potential for tracking meals, displaying daily diet progress, offering tips for losing weight, and reminding users about eating schedules and nutrition goals. Of the three apps I looked at, Lose It! seems like the easiest to set up on the iPhone to start tracking meals on the Apple Watch. Enter the contents of the meal or just the calories (in total or broken down by type). The Apple Watch will remind you to log a meal if, say, it looks like you’ve skipped lunch. At a glance, you can see whether you’re over or under budget in terms of weekly calories. The Apple Watch interactions with other weight management apps, such as Noom and Lark, are substantially different, but if you’re already using those tools on your phone, it’s worth a try.
Pro: Quickly entering meal data and checking diet progress seem perfectly suited to an Apple Watch app, and Lose It! makes it easy to track progress in several ways.
Con: If you don’t know your meal’s calorie count or you eat at irregular intervals, you might get frustrated with the interface and reminders.
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