Mobile health and apps news in brief

February’s mobile health and apps roundup features a collection of apps from Public Health England designed to tackle smoking and other health issues. Also, just in time for the Winter Olympics in South Korea, an analytics tool designed to give clinicians a comprehensive view of the health of Olympians has been launched.

Public Health England releases collection of health apps

Public Health England has released a number of apps to help tackle problems like smoking and obesity.

One of these is the updated Change4Life Food Scanner app, which has been designed to help people make healthier food and drink choices.

The technology allows you to scan the barcode on a product to see the nutritional value of what’s inside.

It also offers simple hints and tips for making healthier choices.

Another new service is the NHS Smokefree app, which supports people trying to stop smoking through daily support and motivation.

The free, four-week programme features daily support messages, progress badges, a craving button with tips and content to distract users, as well as a calculation of the money they’ve saved.

There is also a “record a motivation” feature, which allows users to take a picture or add a message to remind them why they are giving up.  

Both apps can be downloaded at the app store and Google Play.

Analytics tool to help winter olympians is launched

An analytics tool designed to give clinicians a view of the health of winter Olympians has been launched.

The GE Athlete Management Solution (AMS) collects multiple kinds of data, including imaging scans, patient vitals, and venue, event and sport-specific information. It offers  real-time dashboards that can help inform medical staff and allow them to personalize treatment for athletes, while also identifying trends in injury and illness.

The tool is cloud-based and allows clinicians to access and enter data via a mobile device.

It is hoped the tool, which has been designed in partnership with the International Olympics Committee, will be available for use in time for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, and the Tokyo Games in 2020.

AI chatbot for depression and anxiety launched in app form.

An artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot designed to help those suffering from depression and anxiety has been launched as an app.

The chatbot, dubbed ‘Woebot’, is programmed to provide scripted responses in line with the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) model, Business Insider reports.

Once signed up, Woebot will engage with users on a daily basis and ask them to record their mood and energy levels — two symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.

It is hoped the chatbot will provide support to people suffering from mental health difficulties who may be too embarrassed to seek professional help.

The technology was developed by Alison Darcy, a clinical psychologist at Stanford University in the US, who stressed that the chatbot is not intended as a replacement for professional therapy.

AI-based smoking prevention app launched to the public

An app that uses AI technology to learn users’ smoking habits and provides incentives to help them quit has been launched to the public.

Cue, by Canadian-based Kiwi.ai, uses algorithms to automatically track when and where users smoke to learn their habits and predict when their next urge will hit.

Based on the responses, Cue gathers data and estimates variables – such as the amount of nicotine in the body – to sense when a user is about to go for their next cigarette, and rewards them with Amazon credits each time they extend the time between smokes.

The app debuted at CES in Las Vegas in January and has been downloaded more than 8,000 times since.