Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Health Care Apps

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on April 18, 2013

  • Breath to Relax App Screenshot 2


In the “adapt or die” mode, part of moving into the next wave of health care changes is using applications to help patients understand and treat their ailments. Knowing which application to recommend to patients will be an important tool in the ever-expanding toolbox of treatment modalities. This application, pictured above, helps patients learn diaphragmatic breathing by showing a man lying on the ground with a book on his stomach, demonstrating that the book rises and falls with each deep breath, but not with shallow breathing. Deep breathing soothes anxiety, and is a relatively simple means of coping with stress in very powerful moments, such as learning about the Boston Marathon. Teaching people to breathe is that simple, elegant, intervention in which there are no negative effects. The smart phone allows people to teach themselves deep breathing in the privacy of their own space, along with the value of repetition, if need be. There is no doubt, that the smart phone will serve as both a health care passport, in which patients travel with vital medical information, along with serving as a  treatment tool, particularly for stress-related disorders such as anxiety or insomnia. This advanced technology thrills me beyond words. Only in my wildest dreams did I imagine such useful patient information to be so incredibly handy and useful. In this way, medicine is in an exciting era.

2 Responses to “Health Care Apps”

  1. Shelly said

    I agree with you that it’s a whole new world out there with the advent of computers, iPhones, iPADs and the like. But there are still people out there who don’t have the latest technological advances or aren’t all that proficient in using them. They have old-fashioned cell phones that simply make or receive phone calls and don’t own an iPAD. How will the new technology help them?

    • Yes, these health care apps represent another area of health care disparities. There is no question that more financial resources enables better health care, and having the latest technology is one more way in which this is true. Having said that, I can imagine a time when insurance companies pay for iphones so that patients can monitor their progress and thereby save money by cutting down on physician visits. Thanks.

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