If you have spent any time working in an emergency department in the last 10 years, you have undoubtedly come across a conversation about wellness and burnout in medicine. Despite increasing awareness, the data is bleak: Emergency Medicine (EM) physicians experience burnout more than any other specialty.1 As we consider that EM was the second most popular Match in 2017, it’s important to focus on collaborative efforts and ensure that the increasing number of EM trainees does not lead to a generation of burned out EM providers.2
Wellness Think Tank
Several EM-based organizations are tackling these issues head-on.3–5 In 2016, ALiEM joined these efforts and created the Wellness Think Tank, a virtual community of practice that includes 142 EM residents from 100 North American EM residency programs.6 The Wellness Think Tank utilizes the principles of social constructivism to promote a more open dialogue on wellness and burnout.7 The community examined wellness through a number of lenses, brainstorming interventions at both the residency program level and the individual. This work resulted in the 2017 Resident Wellness Consensus Summit.
Best Tech Group
The Think Tank’s Best Tech working group examined the ways that digital resources might be leveraged to promote and maintain wellness amongst emergency physicians, and in particular, EM residents. Members were asked to identify apps that promote personal and professional wellness, and answer an open-ended question: “What apps are you already using and how do they help, if at all?”
Really? Apps for Wellness?
Caring for sick patients in an overcrowded ED is amongst the most stressful work environments one can imagine. How can a smartphone help!?
Preliminary data suggest that software and digital apps can promote health and wellness. Young professionals and physician learners are facile with mobile devices and comfortable incorporating digital apps in clinical and bedside practice.8 In addition, many people believe wellness improves with regular exercise, and studies have shown that young, healthy smartphone users are interested in apps that promote aspects of a healthy lifestyle.9 Smartphone apps have been shown to be helpful in the management of chronic diseases, too.10 Wearable movement tracking devices are another promising modality to motivate users towards health and exercise.11 Taken together, these data suggest that if we are looking to stay well, a smartphone may help.
Best Wellness Apps: Summary Recommendations
We present the summary recommendations of the top 26 wellness apps for emergency physicians. We hope that in reviewing and detailing the specifics for each app, individuals in our EM community may improve their individual perceptions or habits around food and diet, health and exercise, mindfulness and meditation, and professional scheduling and personal planners.
Disclaimer: The Wellness Think Tank and the Best Tech working group do not have any financial conflicts of interests with these apps. Furthermore, these reviews are entirely subjective and based on the experiences of EM residents. This list is not meant to be an exhaustive list of wellness apps.