Health Tracking Goes High-Tech

New "apps" and websites are making it easier than ever to help you and your health professional keep track of everything from chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes, to prescriptions and your pregnancy.

CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton and contributor and CNET Senior Editor Natali Del Conte appeared on "The Early Show" with some of the latest and greatest in tech health tools.

Special Section: Dr. Jennifer Ashton

Are these advances in technology actually helpful?

Ashton said, "I think overall the answer is 'yes.' They are advantageous to the layperson, to the average patient, because what they do is they really help compile information, medical data, and track it."

She said for people with a long-term or chronic illness, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, the type of information collected by these tech tools is key.

Ashton observed, "(When these people go to the doctor), the doctor will want to know, 'What has happened since your last visit?' And if that last visit was three months ago or six months ago, or longer, it's very hard to know, well what was my blood pressure over that period of time. So these things - the sum total of them are very advantageous."

"Early Show" co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez remarked that these tools are designed to complement, but not replace real medical care.

Ashton agreed, saying, "They're not meant to diagnose. ... They're never meant to substitute for the clinical judgment of a practicing health care professional and that interaction with the individual patient. They're not meant to use judgment, they're meant to track data."

Del Conte shared these tech tools for tracking your health:

AsthmaMD is a free application that not only helps you track your asthma, but you will also be helping doctors and researchers learn more about asthma, and other asthma sufferers about high asthma locations. And to protect privacy, you have an option to participate anonymously and securely should you so choose.

Del Conte said, "I like Asthma M.D. I am an asthma sufferer. And a lot of times the doctor says how many attacks have you had? I say maybe one or two in the last week or so. This one lets me track my symptoms, the medication I'm taking and what is actually triggering it so when you go to the doctor you have a clear picture of what's happening."

Islet is a mobile diabetes management application for the iPhone and iPod Touch that costs $2.99. Islet allows quick and easy recording of blood glucose readings, carbohydrate intake, insulin injections, and exercise

VaxTrack is a free application that was created by Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Inc. VaxTrak comes equipped with the Center for Disease Control schedule of recommended vaccinations. Simply enter each family member's information, including any vaccinations they've received to date, and it will keep track and let you know when vaccinations are due, and even nearby locations where you can receive them.

Ashton added that apps may also come in handy for other health conditions, such as high blood pressure, pregnancy, and gestational diabetes.

Ashton explained, "Anything where numbers are at stake and you're following that over a long period of time, these programs can be fantastic."

As for pregnancy, Del Conte shared that she's pregnant and is currently tracking her appointments, sonograms and other health information using WebMD. She said she's also using Baby Center.com to track her baby's growth and progress.

Del Conte explained, "You put in your due date and every week it tells you what's happening. I'm in week 25. I know it's the size of about two juice boxes."

However, Ashton reaffirmed that these sites and apps, while great, should not replace a real doctor.

She said, "When you are using it to track numbers or to prompt you with questions to then ask your doctor, overall, I think it's really good."
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