The 4 best heart failure apps for caregivers and patients


Patients with heart failure (HF) need solid control of their health, especially during the post-discharge recovery phase. If they don’t get it control symptoms, comply with the treatment plan and exercise properly, patients with HF are at risk of re-admission. In particular, more than 25% of patients with IC discharged will be readmitted within the first 30 days.

To offer patients an attentive hand outside the facility and reduce the readmission rate, some providers invest in adapted HF development of medical applications to support the self-management needs of patients with heart failure.

HF-focused applications demonstrate their efficiency

The Health Recovery Solutions app, called PatientConnect, helped reduce the 30-day readmission rate of 130 patients with HF in Penn Care the home of Penn Medicine program at 53 percent. In particular, in the period from July 2014 to February 2015, the readmission rate fell from 8% to 3.8%.

With this in mind, we decided to review the available heart failure applications and find the top four of functional and supportive solutions capable of reducing readmissions in patients with HF. We’ll also explain the pros and cons of these apps, so stay tuned.

Scoring guidelines

We reward each application with a maximum of 40 points. These points fall into 4 categories: basic functionality, synchronization with devices / other applications, sharing capabilities, and communication with the provider. This is how the points are distributed:

  1. Mandatory functionality: 20 points maximum
  • HF-centered therapeutic education (5 maximum)
  • Recording and analysis of critical vitals for HF (5 maximum)
  • Medication tracking (5 maximum)
  • Appointment scheduling (5 maximum)
  1. Smart sync: maximum 5 points
  • Device sync (3 points)
  • Application synchronization (2 points)
  1. Compartment – 5 points maximum

If so, what type of sharing is enabled:

  • Automatic (3 points) and / or manual (2 points)
  1. Secure communication: 10 points maximum

If so, what type of communication is available:

  • Text communication (2 points)
  • Voice communication (3 points)
  • Video communication (5 points)

Now, let’s look at the top 4 heart disease apps according to our score.

H2O overload: fluid control for heart and kidney health

App Store

The app is provided by the National Kidney Foundation and contains a set of features for dealing with heart failure, hyponatremia and kidney disease, which include:

  • My diagnosis: here the patient can access the therapeutic education section, where the condition is explained and the most frequently asked questions are answered. For example, the patient may understand a vicious circle of heart failure and kidney disease, affecting each other and causing fluid and sodium imbalance.
  • My medications: the patient introduces medications and doses, staying on track with their treatment plan.
  • My health tools: allows the patient to introduce fluid intake, weight changes, and blood pressure measurements. The patient or their physician can set a target value or limit to automatically notify the caregiver by email of any change in health status, both negative and positive (depending on the preset values). The patient will receive a push notification to review their changes and contact members of their care team if necessary. There is also the option to turn on emailing manually if the patient wants to share the latest progress with their doctor.
  • My appointments with the doctor: it helps the patient to consider all future visits to the office and not to miss them.
  • Questions for my provider: it serves as a simple notebook to write down any questions the patient wants to ask within an appointment.
  • Nutritional information: a tool with several capabilities, including conversion tables, backed by shopping and cooking tips to reduce sodium intake.

Final score: 23/40

Way out. Despite the good set of tools available for patients with HF, the score is not that high. The application loses some points because it does not allow any secure communication options or device synchronization. However, it gains one more point for the fluid tracker, because patients with HF must control water intake to prevent swelling.


The app created by health professionals and engineers at USF College of Engineering and USF College of Nursing is designed to facilitate self-management of patients with heart failure. It is synchronized with the external sensor Bioharness BT, allowing the measurement of:

  • Heart rate
  • Respiratory rate
  • Activity level
  • Posture
  • Skin temperature
  • Blood pressure (optional external sensor)
  • SpO2 (optional external sensor)

The application itself contains six modules:

  • Exercises: it helps patients perform breathing and walking exercises and keep up with the necessary levels of physical activity.
  • About CHF: educates patients with HF about their condition and all the pitfalls hidden in their path.
  • Evaluation: a questionnaire that allows patients to assess their health, mood, and symptoms on a daily basis and obtain feedback.
  • Vital signs: synchronizes Bioharness BT and offers a manual way to enter vital values.
  • Trends: the tool visualizes historical patient health data in real time in easy-to-read graphs.
  • Medications: helps patients manage their medications.

HeartMapp places patients with HF in a green, yellow, or red zone based on the combination of their vitals, exercises, and medications. Green means the patient is fine in self-management, while red advises seeing a doctor or going to the hospital. And the yellow zone is the area of ​​improvement, where patients need to understand what they are missing in health management and gain that skill.

In addition, the app is connected to a web application for providers, which provides access to historical and real-time information about the patient’s health status for early intervention and prevention of readmission.

Final score: 24/40

Way out. Although the original score was 21, the app was able to earn three bonus points for:

  • evaluation functionality,
  • offering specific HF-focused exercises,
  • colored areas to explain to patients where they are most easily found.

However, we were surprised not to find any secure options in the application for communication with the provider. Developers have already connected a patient with their doctor via automatic real-time updates on vitals and trends, it’s funny why they didn’t take it one step further.

Stories of heart failure

App Store

Developed in collaboration with the Heart Failure Society of America, this app is intended to ensure that patients with heart failure have the functions necessary to maintain their balanced health. The most interesting feature is that the patients themselves can create the dashboard and clean the home page from the features they don’t need. Within the application, patients can choose from a list of the following HF management tools:

  • Daily vital elements: allows you to record and view certain vitals such as weight, body fat percentage, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and pulse.
  • Drug Tracker: allows you to enter medications, set reminders, and track your intake.
  • Symptom tracker: it allows patients to introduce symptoms and side effects to create patterns that may be essential for estimating treatment progress.
  • Physical activity: ensures that the patient moves and exercises enough.
  • Sync a device: allows you to add data from other mHealth applications and smart devices (e.g., Jawbone, Garmin, Fitbit).
  • Low sodium guidelines: advises the patient on how to meet their nutritional needs with a low-salt diet.
  • My diary and daily moods: it allows for self-analysis functionality to make the patient more aware of how their health status translates into emotions and their environment.
  • Dating calendar: keeps the patient up to date with their scheduled appointments, follow-ups, procedures, tests and more.

In addition, the patient can share the recorded data with their doctor, friends, and loved ones within their personal support circle.

Final score: 31/40

Way out. In general, this application is very useful for patients with heart failure due to its rich functionality. Our initial score was 29, and we added two bonus points for a great view of trends in medication and vital intake, as well as additional attractive features such as journaling and physical activity. The score could be higher if the app allowed an audio / video chat with the provider and offered an option to automatically send vital data updates to providers and family members.

PatientConnect (specifically for heart failure)

Created by Health Recovery Solutions, PatientConnect is a suite of applications aimed at different diseases, such as diabetes, COPD and heart failure. In the case of HF, the patient receives a tablet containing the application for heart disease and a set of smart devices to collect vital. The functionality of the application includes tools such as:

  • Educational material: the patient can access tests, brochures, and videos to improve their self-management skills.
  • Care plans: here the patient can obtain information about the goals of their treatment plan.
  • Drug reminders: according to the patient care plan, the patient receives medication reminders.
  • Vital: the patient can record their weight, blood pressure, temperature, and pulse, as well as take pictures of any injury or symptoms (e.g., ankle swelling) and share them with their doctor or caregiver.
  • Daily activity and mood: the patient participates in surveys and indicates their level of physical activity with current emotions.
  • Communication: the patient can interact with their doctor through voice and video chats with the help of the provider’s ClinicianConnect application. In addition, a physician receives real-time updates on changes in the patient’s health status and can intervene in a timely manner.

Final score: 33/40

Way out. We already have our winner! Not surprisingly, this application of heart failure allowed Penn Medicine to achieve a 53 percent reduction in readmissions among patients with HF. With functionality similar to other applications in our top, it stands out for the opportunity to ensure a simple conversation between a patient and their provider.

We have improved the initial score of 31 with two bonus points for the interactive therapeutic education functionality and the application approach, where it is already installed and compatible with the necessary smart devices. The app lost some points due to its inability to ensure text communication with a doctor and caregiver, the lack of the app’s sync option, and the lack of appointment scheduling functionality.

Final thoughts

Although all of the reviewed heart failure applications were functional and supportive, none of them reached the top. However, we still think that PatientConnect is the closest tool to a tool that patients with HF can use to manage their condition on a daily basis and balance their health to reduce readmissions. Just a few tweaks and it will become the most complete kit for heart failure management.

In the meantime, we’ll review several general applications for self-management and find out if there is one that can compete with HF-oriented applications, so stay tuned.

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