iPad apps range from the popular Angry Bird video game franchise to the Zagat restaurant finder, but Apple and Google's wildly successful applications for mobile phones also feature interactive health guides.
The apps aren't just for consumers interested in losing weight, monitoring their blood sugar or maintaining an exercise regime, but by the end of 2012, half of U.S. doctors are expected to use apps for their own medical practices, according to a November survey.
A survey of 350 doctors found that 38 percent of healthcare workers with smartphones use medical apps daily, a percent expected to increase in 2012 to 50 percent, according to IT industry association CompTIA.
As mobile devices and applications have become more user-friendly, affordable and powerful, the appeal to businesses of all types, including healthcare providers, has grown exponentially, said Tim Herbert, vice president of research at the trade group the Computing Technology Industry Association.
Apple sells apps for iPads and iPhones; Google also sells apps for devices that use the Android operating system.
About one in 10 American cell phone users downloaded a health app, according to 2011 survey data from the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project. In 2011, 11 percent of Americans had downloaded a health/ medical app, up slightly from the 9 percent that had downloaded the apps in 2010.
The 2011 survey found that when tablet computers were also included, a quarter of people who downloaded an app in the past year downloaded a health app.
Even as doctors use apps more often in their practices, one researcher in February warned that iPads may not be effective compared with high-end clinical monitors.
iPads and other secondary screens should not be used for clinical diagnosis, Dr. Mark McEntee, senior medical radiation researcher at Sydney University, told eHealthspace.org. There is a range of safety concerns associated with using mobile screens.
The main concern is that a clinician using a lower-resolution iPad will miss crucial visual information and therefore give an incorrect diagnosis, McEntee said.
Tablet computers are fast becoming a common feature in hospital environments, McEntee said. We are working on identifying what clinicians might miss by using those devices.
From personal fitness and diet diaries to more sophisticated blood glucose monitoring and measuring back scoliosis, these apps can help people monitor and in some cases, even predict health outcomes.
Below are the top 10 iPad apps, according to AppShopper, a buying guide for iPad and iPhone users.