Monday 7 April 2014, 07:09 | By

In The News April 2014 – Apps, Apple, mHealth

CSL In The News

Creative Skills For Life monitors and reports on projects and initiatives that bring together creativity, technology and healthcare. Get daily recomended links via Twitter and check out our pick of recent stories here.

Apple health

This month apps that can contribute to art therapy, Apple’s health moves and some thoughts on mHealth networks for GP and health specialist communications.

FOUR MOBILE APPS FOR USE IN ART THERAPY REVIEWED
A passion for creative technologies that deliver healthcare benefits is pretty much at the heart of the Creative Skills For Life mission, and we learned about four interesting creative apps that can be utilised for therapeutic purposes last month via Rachel Lendzion, writing for Social Work Helper. The digital tools she specifically identified were as follows:

Computer Art Therapy provides tools for three different styles of drawing: free, family and Mandala drawing (circular images with geometric patterns that symbolise the universe, in case you wondered). From the artwork that the user creates and personal information they supply, the app provides an analysis of the drawing as well as the psychological state of the user. It analyses colour usage and frequency, and is based on knowledge, experience and research data from the arts therapy world.

Art As Therapy is a supplementary app to the eponymous book and includes 150 examples of art, design and architecture for users to explore alongside chapters in the book that unpack our ability to deal with certain emotions and situations in life. This app is as a take-home exercise, rather than an in-session aid.

Happy Draw Bug is a children’s tracing game designed to help develop motor skills, encourage the exploration of art and boost self esteem. With 40 drawings available to trace, children can then save and share their creations online.

And lastly, ArtStudio is more of a generic, but well-designed art mobile app which provides tools for sketching, painting and photo editing. Used during or after a therapy session, this app can help with self-expression and exploring creativity. Read the full review here.

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APPLE RUMOURED TO BE PLANNING HEALTH TRACKING SOFTWARE
Although fitness apps have been around for a few years now (as have the boastful ‘I’ve run 12 miles in just 37 minutes’ updates on social media, though those are somewhat less welcome), it seems as though Apple may be taking things one step further and might be releasing more sophisticated health monitoring software in the coming months. Designed for Apple’s mobile operating system, Healthbook looks like it will offer a more comprehensive health record, including heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate monitoring, or so says TechCrunch.

According to a leaked report from 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman, the software could be available as early as June, possibly after making its debut at Apple’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference. Gurman’s report provides recreated screenshots based on information from anonymous sources (including the one above), which show how the software will display a user’s health details in a ‘card’ format, much like Apple’s current Passbook application. The cards will track blood pressure, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, heart rate, hydration, blood sugar and more, alongside the more commonly-used activity tracking, nutrition and weight monitoring.

Whether these new health features will need added sensors in the next iPhone, or rely on something like an iWatch device (which is also widely rumoured to be in the pipeline), or possibly need equipment from a third party, remains to be seen. But it’s encouraging that Apple seem to be taking the mobile health market seriously with this development. They tend to have their finger on the pulse (pun intended) of emerging technologies, and they also usually produce high quality solutions. (OK, iTunes Ping and v1 of Apple Maps excluded)

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WILL THE FUTURE OF THE NHS SEE US FACEBOOKING OUR DOCTORS?
As think tanks grapple with the key buzzwords and issues of our future healthcare system, David Doherty from mHealth News has been considering some fundamental matters surrounding the collision of the internet age and healthcare.

In response to an article written by Charlie Cooper for the Independent, Doherty criticises the notion of being able to contact doctors online, via Facebook or Skype. Even with a radical change in the practice of medicine and a significant increase in funding, Doherty cannot envisage doctors wanting to practice their skills in this way (let alone being insured to do so) and instead, he identifies the need for a secure, bespoke and non-profit online platform.

Doherty points out some successful online networks for people to communicate with their specialists – such as ParkinsonNet in the Netherlands – and he emphasises the importance of such platforms not relying on advertising as a revenue stream, like Facebook does. As momentum gathers in the mHealth sphere, Doherty focuses on conditions like diabetes, that are becoming easily managed by specifically designed mHealth technology.

He adds: “It’s critical that we all appreciate that we have failed if we think we need to use office based consultations to manage all healthcare problems. This is why we think the NHS should focus on mHealth efforts to address Diabetes care as it is the chronic disease that involves the largest amount of already committed resources, is probably the easiest chronic disease to manage… [and], has massive care quality variations across the UK…”

Innovative online solutions to enhance our future healthcare system are very much on the wider agenda these days, of course, and CSL founder Ian Spero is part of one such initiative, the  Technology Strategy Board’s  Long Term Care Revolution, which Ian recently reported on here.