Tuesday, 12 June 2012 23:56

iPhone Apps for kidney failure, dialysis and transplants

Written by  Greg Collette
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A few weeks ago dialysis nurse friend of mine asked me to check out the iPhone apps for people on dialysis and with kidney failure.  Since last weekend was a long weekend I finally had time to do it.  I limited my review to iPhone and iPad apps available for people:

  • Who have kidney failure or
  • Are on dialysis or
  • Who are contemplating or have received a transplant.

It was a bigger job than I expected – I searched on four terms: “dialysis apps”, “kidney apps”, “renal apps” and “transplant apps” and found around 100 apps that are associated with one or more of them.

I worked through each app, either using the description and screen shots on iTunes, or by purchasing the app and working through it.  My final list has 63 apps that fell into one of six categories:

Category                                        No. of Apps

On-Dialysis                                            4

Have Transplant                                      1

Have Kidney Failure                                8

Clinician (renal nurse/technician)             14

Nephrology professional                          14

Clinicians and professionals                      9

General (applicable to all categories)        13

                                                    Total  63

Disappointingly few apps are designed for people on dialysis or transplant recipients, with a few more apps for people with kidney failure. A total of 36 apps were for clinicians, nephrology professions or both (I will list these apps in my next review  post).  The remaining apps were of a general nature that may be of interest to all categories. 


Since there are so many apps to cover, I will publish the reviews batches over the next few weeks, beginning with the Dialysis, Transplant and Kidney Disease apps. 

On-Dialysis Apps

Though 22 apps are listed in the search result, only 4 are aimed at people on BigD.  The quality and value is pretty thin.

imageSunlight Health – 3 Stars – Free

Register of US hospitals, dialysis units, nursing homes, health care suppliers and prescription drugs with rating and quality information drawn from consumer reports and from US Medicare’s Hospital Compare database.  Sunlight Health is part of the “Sunlight Foundation, a non-partisan, non-profit organisation to that uses cutting-edge technology and ideas to make government transparent and accountable.”

This is a very comprehensive app, though limited to the US for location information.  For dialysis centres it lists location by zip code with quality levels, including patient survival rating, dialysis adequacy, etc.  

The drug list is extensive, showing cost comparisons of various brands (per day per dose), a description of the drug, where it is used, efficacy, etc, and a list of other drugs in the same class.  All entries are sourced and dated.  Some drug classes aren’t listed (eg antibiotics and ED drugs like Viagra and Cialis) 

This drug information is designed to help people make more informed decisions. While limited to drugs sold in the US, this information is of value to people in most countries. A reliable source of information and support.

imageDialysis Finder – 2 Stars – Free

Locates dialysis clinics throughout the US. Provides contact information and driving directions for over 5,500 dialysis clinics.

OK app for people on dialysis who US residents or travellers to the US.  Simple to use.  Advertisements across the top of the screen obviously used to pay for the app.  Limited to US.  Not in the same class as Sunlight Health.

imageKidney Journal – 1 Star – $5.49

A logging app that enables patients to record all the treatment (including dialysis) and medication details ongoing and to obtain charts and trend information.

Kidney Journal is a good idea, and it could be quite useful IF IT WORKED. It appears to have been released too early, with minimal testing and many bugs. Only the navigation pages work, which are incidentally the ones shown in the iTunes summary.   Is this just a cash generator for the unwary, or is it a genuine attempt to build a functional app for dialysis patients?  Since it was published in 2009, I suspect the former.


Dialysis Apps – Zero Stars  – $0.99

Offers a range of games and activities that dialysis patients can play/do while dialysing.

This is essentially a feeder app in more ways than one. Ostensibly it is a useful list of games and activities.  However each game and app listed also costs $0.99.  Bearing in mind there are thousands of free games listed in iTunes, in addition to old favourites (like solitaire) and powerful mind exercise games like those from Lumosity, this app seems to offer very little value.  It looks more like a $ feeder app for the developer.  Hopefully I will be the last to get sucked in to buying it.

Have Transplant Apps

imageSurgery & Transplantation – 2 Stars – Free

This app is a plain English reference dictionary describing commonly performed transplants and major surgery.

Another Michael Quach app.  He has been accused of spamming the apps market and has published more than 90 apps of minimal value.  This is no exception.  Not specifically aimed at kidney transplants, but designed as a first stop for people new to transplants or other surgery.  The dictionary is limited to 32 definitions/descriptions.  It is unlikely you will not open it twice, since there are many other more useful dictionary apps available.

Have Kidney Failure Apps

imageRenal TRKRR – 4 Stars – $8.49

Renal tracker is a kidney disease management tool which enables patients to take an active role in their own healthcare.  Components of the tool include:

  • Nutrition Trkrr shows the levels of potassium, phosphorous, protein, sodium, carbohydrate, and water consumed throughout the day. RENAL TRKRR compares these levels with nutritional guidelines set by their physicians/dietician
  • Health Trkrr tracks kidney health and diabetes lab numbers
  • Medication Trkrr allows users to carry their most current medications with them at all times
  • Graph and compare all Trkrr information over time to see how you are doing
  • Email important information to doctors and keep them treated on your progress
  • Set reminders for medication and doctor visits as needed
  • An electronic log and charting tool that records details of diet, tests and medications.

This is a comprehensive app that covers the spectrum of information a kidney disease patient needs to manage their condition.  As a complex app, it has learning curve, but it is easy to start with small entries of things you know (eg medications, food preferences) and to expand as the information arrive (eg lab results).  It is for kidney disease only, no specific dialysis data is collected. 

Naturally, as a logging tool, it is most appreciated by the anal amongst us.  Though it is likely that the charts and trend information may justify maintaining your data.  Time will tell whether it is worth the moneyl.

imageKidney Diet – 3.5 Stars – $5.49

A food analysis tool for people with kidney disease.  It tracks potassium, phosphorus, protein, sodium and fluid levels in various foods.

Listed as one of the 10 best health apps by Yahoo.  With Kidney disease as its primary focus, this app could be very useful for people in early stage kidney failure.  It can help educate on the good food, the bad food and the ugly food that tempts us all day, every day.  Though it is unlikely to be used every day, setting up a typical meal week will provide an excellent guide for healthy eating.

Then again, my anal friends (we all have a few) may well use it every day.


Protein Calc – 3 Stars – $0.99

Tool for calculating and tracking daily protein intake.

Published by the Universal Kidney Foundation a not-for-profit of Burton, Michigan (universal?).  With Kidney disease as its primary focus, this app could be useful for people in early stage kidney failure, helping them learn about kidney diet. 

The app is a little more cumbersome and less comprehensive than Kidney Diet (above). The fonts in the food chooser are tiny for us vision challenged.  Though it is unlikely to be used every day, setting up a typical meal week will provide an excellent guide to the protein levels in each meal.

imageGlomerulus – 2 Stars – Free

Tool for calculating how many grams of protein consumed at each meal.

With low protein diet as its primary focus, this app could be useful for people in early stage kidney failure, helping them learn about kidney diet. 

The app ocusses on each meal.  Once you have made the calculation, you must clear the result to make the next one.  Nothing is stored.  There is no trend analysis, graphing, etc).  This is a limiting factor and if you need more detail and support, Kidney Diet is probably the answer. 

imageKidney Diseases –1½  Stars – Free

This app is a plain English reference dictionary describing kidney diseases.

Yet another Michael Quach app (see Surgery & Transplantation).  This is a minimally useful first stop for people new to kidney failure.  The dictionary is limited to 17 definitions/descriptions.  It is unlikely you will open it twice since here are many other more useful dictionary apps available.

Enough for now.  More to follow over the next few weeks.

... http://bigdandme.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/iphone-apps-for-kidney-failure-dialysis-and-transplants/

Greg Collette

Greg Collette

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