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Are mobile health platforms the next big thing in tech?

Thinkstock | Ridofranz

Thinkstock | Ridofranz

We love learning about any new apps that help make nurses’ busy lives a little easier, from those that help you sleep to those for the ER to those for student nurses. Among the most impressive apps out there are those designed to keep us healthy (such as those for running and for maintaining a healthy mind), and these health apps keep getting more advanced and useful every day.

So it’s probably no surprise that the huge tech companies are getting in on the health app game, too. Recently, both Apple and Google have announced their respective mobile platforms (iOS and Android) will soon carry native health platforms. Apple’s app is called Health, while Google’s is Fit. Other larger tech companies such as Samsung have already released their own tech apps and devices.

We wanted to take an in-depth look at what we can expect from these apps. It should be noted that since neither Health or Fit has been officially released yet, features and specs could change before they are publicly available.

Apple – Health

Health acts as a dashboard on your mobile device that combines and displays information primarily gathered from other apps you may be using already. At this point, the only thing the app actually measures is the number of steps you take, because that functionality is tied to the phones motion sensor.

However, the app still has a ton of useful features. It works in conjunction with third party apps to not only gather and present information from other apps, but also to allow that data to be combined to give you a more accurate assessment of your current health.

“Heart rate, calories burned, blood sugar, cholesterol — your health and fitness apps are great at collecting all that data,” is how Apple puts it. “The new Health app puts that data in one place, accessible with a tap, giving you a clear and current overview of your health.”

Apple also created a special tool for developers that will allow them to create apps that work seamlessly with Health. The app also allows you to control how much information to share, and how your apps can (or cannot) share information with one other.

Finally, the app allows you to add a special section to your lock screen that includes vital health information such as blood type and allergies in case of an emergency.

Google Fit

Google seems to be opening up its Android platform in much the same way as Apple Health, with the difference being there’s not–at least as of yet–a specific app to go along with it.

Instead, Fit will be an open platform for developers to create health apps that will have complete compatibility with Android devices. This also includes access to motion sensors on the devices. Since this includes smart watches that have been released so far to work with the Android platform, this may give Fit an advantage in the motion tracking department.

An article on Mashable provides an example of how apps will be able to work together on the Fit platform.

By using sensors on mobile devices and wearables — like Google’s smartwatch collection — users will be able to have a better handle on their various health and fitness-related data to give better recommendations. For example, weight loss app Noom (an early partner of Google Fit) can combine workout data, your weight in real-time (it works with the Withings smart scale) and your eating habits, it monitors your activity and makes suggestions (i.e. when your cookie habit is getting too high, it will intervene).

Samsung S Health

Samsung got the jump on both Google and Apple, releasing S Health as a preloaded app on the Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone.

The app is used in a similar way as the Google and Apple health platforms to gather health information and give you a real-time analysis of your health. One additional feature is that the phone includes a built-in heart rate monitor that you use by placing your finger under the phone’s rear-facing camera.

The app also integrates with external gadgets, including Samsung’s own wearable Gear Fit. This device measures distance, heart rate and more.

Nurses, what do you think about these apps? Do you think they’ll help to make your patients healthier? What about YOU? Sound off in the comments below.

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