WebMD, a respected online resource for health news and tips, introduced an enhanced version of its mobile app for the iPhone and iPad on Oct. 8 at the Health 2.0 conference in San Francisco, according to WebMD company spokesperson Adam Grossberg.
In a demonstration, WebMD's CEO Wayne Gattinella showed how the mobile app can access WebMD's PHR (personal health record) platform, which is used by many of the largest employers and health plans in the United States, Grossberg noted.
Gattinella demonstrated how WebMD Mobile can store patients' PHRs in a fully personalized version and include information on pre-existing conditions and medications.
WebMD Mobile has been downloaded more than 2 million times and ranks among the top three health apps on iTunes, according to Grossberg.
Consumers can use the app to check symptoms of an illness, find information on medications, get first aid tips and search for hospitals, physicians and pharmacies, Grossberg said.
Menu options in WebMD Mobile include Symptom Checker, Condition, Drug & Treatments, First Aid Information, Local Health Listings and Personal Health Record.
The application's My Alerts feature identifies possible conditions based on the patient's symptoms and medications documented in the patient's health record. The app then makes determinations based on this information. The app's answers may provide basic information such as "Ibuprofen may cause abdominal pain."
Although WebMD Mobile currently runs only on the iPhone and iPad, the company has plans to launch apps on other smartphone platforms such as BlackBerry and Android, the WebMD spokesperson said. The mobile app will launch sometime in 2011, Grossberg said.
In September, WebMD's Medscape site began hosting informational sites that provide tips on how to implement electronic health records.
Hewlett-Packard, Intel and McKesson collaborated on that site, along with the public microsite PracticeReadyEHR.com, which explains how physicians can qualify for stimulus money under the government's HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act).
Other recent health apps launched on mobile devices include tools from health provider Prematics and the Walgreens chain, which provides text alerts to customers when their prescriptions are ready for pickup.
RIM is also eyeing the health care industry for applications to incorporate on its new PlayBook tablet, which will be available in 2011.