Bloodnote - A look at minimalist design in medical apps

Whenever a friend asks me to see the apps I've installed on my iPhone, I feel immediately embarrassed for the amount of clutter  and things I download to test and never got to delete. This got me thinking about the apps that you actually need to use on a daily basis whether you like them or not. I'm not talking about Messages or Mail, but about tools that help you keeping track of your health and fitness stats. 

Fortunately, developers have spotted the potential of the market and a quick search on the health and fitness category on the App Store shows a myriad of tools for almost any need. As you already know, quantity doesn't get along too well with quality. I'm currently on a diet and need to weight myself. I'm glad a studio like Tapbots came up with it's fantastic Weightbot -- It makes logging my weight less of a chore and it's became a cool little thing I'm doing everyday. Sure, I could use a piece of paper or the Notes app, but the important thing is that I keep an accurate record and remember to do so. 

And now that a family member has hypertension I'm asked to suggest a way to keep a log of these readings. It turns out that those blood pressure monitors are quite cheap these days. I hear patients like to check their pressure at home, regularly and without nerves you get with a doctor's appointment. These machines don't come with any booklet or journal to do this, hence the need of an alternative solution to log the readings.

I this case I remembered Bloodnote by Peter Bajtala and Matt Ludzen [iTunes Link]. Unlike other options available on the App Store, the app ditches all medical references symbols and icons in favour of a friendlier user interface. The difference is clear: adding a gesture-based mechanism to input makes the chore more of a fun task. I can see people with hypertension problems involving children helping then to enter the readings. 

The choice of colours, fonts, weight and balance isn't only beautiful but it's also comforting. It sends the message "Don't worry, you're doing well"

Simply drag your finger around a circle for the three categories available: systolic, diastolic and pulse. Probably typing these somewhere else is easier, but you'll miss the graphical presentation of the data. A nice touch that older users will appreciate is that the information can be filtered for a simpler view -- I'm still missing an option to make those numbers larger.

In a quick email exchange with the developer I was told that this is their first experience on the iOS platform and that they plan continuing supporting Bloodnote with future updates. The idea is to add a landscape view, the option to add more measurements per day (useful when the patient changes medicines) and a reminder, probably using Notification Center. 

I wouldn't normally blog about an app this simple, more like a student project, and I fear most of you readers will find it boring. Sorry! For me this is a way to show appreciation and hopefully motivate others to work on more fun and more beautiful health apps. 

If you're working on an app that is going to be boring by definition, maybe it's a good idea to focus on user interaction. We can all keep records and notes with our smartphones, it's up to the developer to provide an engaging experience. I couldn't care less about weighting myself, but you'll be surprised the amount of time I stay on the scales playing with Weightbot in the mornings.