May 31

Top 13 Best Apps for People with a Chronic Illness in 2020

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We all need some help managing aspects of chronic illness and I believe it’s worth taking advantage of any tech that enables this process. But it’s time-consuming to find what’s worth your time and what isn’t. 

That’s where I come in. I’ve done the work and tested at least 30 different apps designed to help with chronic illnesses or general life management. And I’m sharing the best ones in this article. 

The top 13 apps that I’ve listed as the best options for anyone with a chronic illness in 2020 all fulfil a different purpose in disease management. From monitoring symptoms to demonstrating coping techniques – I’m covering it all.  

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I’ve reviewed each app on the following criteria: 

  1. User-journey; 
  2. Simplicity; 
  3. Relevance; 
  4. Value; and 
  5. Popular opinion. 

Managing a Chronic Illness with Mobile Apps

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Apps for chronic illness management came into use a few years after I had already been diagnosed. At that point, I had put manual monitoring systems into place and I was happy. 

If you’re anything like me – you still enjoy putting pen to paper and writing your thoughts down in the old fashioned way. There’s nothing wrong with it and you shouldn’t stop if you enjoy it. 

But it’s worth knowing that when you start using apps as online medical assistants – you might need to change your mindset and strategy a little, but the reward is tenfold in comparison. 

So there’s nothing wrong with downloading an app to try it out. However, to really benefit from its functions, you need to shift the way you think about documenting information and interacting with your phone. 

You need to create a digital medical ecosystem. 

Creating a Digital Medical Ecosystem

Initially, I thought I was a diehard analogue supporter – but when chronic illness management apps started to come into use it really changed the way I monitored my life for the better. 

I already have an automated online system with my pharmacy that allows them to deliver all my meds at the start of each month without me needing to lift a finger. 

I also submit all medical insurance claims via my phone and use a loyalty programme to earn money back from making healthy eating or fitness choices etc. 

And when I started to see how much chronic illness lifestyle apps had evolved – I jumped on that bandwagon too. Pretty much everything I do is online now. And it’s such a pleasure to make these changes. 

3 benefits of integrating into a digital medical ecosystem: 

  1. Many medical systems, like pharmacies and insurance companies, have apps in place that you can use to automate your communication to make life easier for you as a spoonie.

    Look into the medical systems you use (eg. pharmacy or insurance) to see what they offer digitally. It’s a pleasure not to have to worry about repeat scripts, claims or even surgery forms.
  2. You are often rewarded for being part of a specific system. Most apps run by medical companies want to encourage the use of their online platforms.

    So they offer loyalty programmes that you could really benefit from. When my medical insurance started repaying me for keeping physically active – trust me it was worth my while to have their app.
  3. Online medical assistance apps are often a lot cheaper than the alternative options. So if you want to save money – going digital will help you here. 

This brings us to the next question: Is it worth paying for online apps? 

Paid vs Unpaid Apps – What is Better? 

I’m sure you know the feeling of finding an awesome app, downloading it and filling in your necessary details – only to be left with a “Choose your subscription plan now” page. 

You hesitate. Your finger hovers over the button. Your mind repeats the question: “Yeah, it’s cool but is it worth paying actual money for?” 

I know this feeling so well. 

I also know that when you have a chronic illness or struggle with a disability – money is not something you can afford to throw around. Your medical bills are expensive and are the first priority. 

So in response, I don’t want to give you a stupid answer, like “it all depends”. So here’s what I can tell you instead: 

  1. Consider your financial priorities. If you’re more comfortable using a real notebook and pen to manage your daily life, then it’s unlikely that buying an app would feel like an investment for you.
  2. Check its trial period. If it’s a paid-for app without any free benefits or even a trial period – I don’t give it the time of day. Before buying anything online you should trust and like who you’re buying from.
  3. Consider your own pocket. If the app is way out of your budget, with no decent monthly instalment options – it’s not worth it. Using a paid-for app is a luxury that can be replaced less conveniently.  
  4. Only consider it when there’s nothing good for free. You may find an app you really like, but I highly recommend digging around to see if there’s a free option first. If you can find something equally good for free – why not go for that? 
  1. Wait 3 days before making the purchase. If there’s a paid-for app that you want but you’re not sure if it’s worth it – wait a few days before making a decision. If it’s on your mind and you keep thinking how useful it would be, then chances are it’ll be a good purchase. 

My Top 13 Apps

Here are my top 13 favourite apps that encompass quite a broad range of chronic illness management aspects. 

In each review, I will tell you: 

  1. What it does for you; 
  2. Why I like it; 
  3. Why I don't like it; 
  4. Cost; and
  5. The overall ranking I give it. 

Flaredown

flaredown-apps-for-people-with-a-chronic-illness

What it does for you: Flaredown is an app where you “check-in” daily to give a brief update on your conditions, symptoms, treatments, the health factors that have affected you and to give a final summary of that day. 

Why I like it: This is a clean and simple app that makes basic chronic illness documentation super easy. Everything from trigger tracking, medication management and symptom tracking takes under 5 minutes to record. 

Why I don't like it: I'd have to say that the apps "health factors" section is a little too simple. While the rest of the app is well structured – I feel that this page hasn't been built up well and lacks direction or detail. So it can feel a little pointless to use every day. 

Cost: Free 

Overall ranking: 7/10 

Manage My Pain

manage-my-pain-app-apps-for-people-with-a-chronic-illness

What it does for you: MMP is a great app if you suffer from any form of chronic pain. You use it to document your conditions, medications and then report on the severity of your pain when you want. More than that, you can also:

  1. Document where it hurts; 
  2. What could have made it worse; 
  3. How long it lasted; 
  4. Where you were while you were in pain; 
  5. What medication you used; and 
  6. Besides medication, what else did you try? 

Once you’ve recorded all the information that you found relevant, the results are all documented and can be downloaded into reports. 

Why I like it: Beyond the fact that it makes record-taking super easy. I really like the fact that all your data can be instantly downloaded into reports and used when you get to any of your doctor’s appointments. 

I also love the level of detail you can dive into. This app really takes so many medical factors into consideration that it's a pleasure to report back on every unusual but important part of your day. 

Why I don't like it: There's hardly anything I can fault this app on. It does exactly what I need it to and fulfils all my criteria. I think it's an essential app for all chronic pain patients to have. 

Cost: Free for overall use, some reports requiring a small fee for download.  

Overall ranking: 9/10  

SuperBetter 

superbetter-apps-for-people-with-a-chronic-illness

What it does for you: SuperBetter is such a refreshing app that helps you work on your mental health. 

If you’re feeling down, battling internal demons, or need some motivation – this app gives you easy activities that you can do whenever you need. 

Each activity is aligned with a goal that you want to reach and helps you take small steps towards achieving it. It celebrates your achievements in a proactive way. 

Why I like it: This app is awesome! The minute I logged into it I got excited. I love to have small challenges sent my way that help me build my self-esteem and work on myself in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming. 

Being kind to yourself is a fundamental part of working on your mental health and this app is so effective at helping you build this quality. 

Why I don't like it: There's so much jaw-dropping science behind all the features that this app has and, although there is a section dedicated to its scientific backing, I think it's a little dry.

The whole app is super fun and easy to use and I think it would be nice for it to speak a bit more about its scientific backing in a fun and easy-to-read way as well. 

Cost: Free 🙂 

Overall ranking:  7/10 

Stop.Breath.Think 

stop-breath-think-apps-for-people-with-a-chronic-illness

What it does for you: This is another awesome but simple app that can help with mental health management. Stop.Breath.Think takes you through a 4-step evaluation that helps you document exactly how YOU are feeling. 

When you’re done, it gives you 3 free meditations that you can do to work on the things that are troubling you at that time. Each one is short-and-sweet (no more than 10 minutes usually). 

Why I like it: This is another really refreshing mental health management app that gives you simple coping techniques that are actually so easy to implement. 

The app works you through its suggestions, step-by-step, and gives you such awesome words of encouragement when you need them most. 

Why I don't like it: Yet another stellar app that's hard to fault. The biggest issue I have with it is that the free version adds so much value – I struggle to see the point in upgrading to premium? Especially since the monthly subscription fee is about $8,50. 

Cost: Free with an option to upgrade to premium features. 

Overall ranking: 8/10 

My Medical ID

my-ID-medical-apps-for-people-with-a-chronic-illness

What it does for you: This is a great basic medical app to keep on your smartphone. It allows you to store all your relevant medical information, including your conditions, medications, insurance information etc. 

You can also do things like schedule any medical reminders or join their community to connect with others. 

Why I like it: The main reason My ID appeals to me is its simplicity and relevance. It’s so useful to have your medical information on your phone at all times. 

Not to mention it makes filling out forms a breeze – especially when my brain fog kicks in! 

Why I don't like it: For its overall function, this is a great app. I think it it's "community" feature is a little pointless. It allows you to review medical professionals – which is good. However, it doesn't categorise this list at all.

You can't search the list by specialisation, nor are the doctor's details provided, or the country they are based in. It's basically just a page of doctor's names with a patient's rating.

Cost: Free with an option to upgrade to premium features. 

Overall ranking: 6/10 

Happify 

happify-apps-for-people-with-a-chronic-illness

What it does for you: Much like its name, this app is designed to “happify” you. It helps you work on six important aspects of training yourself to be happy from within: Savour, Thank, Aspire, Give, Empathise and Revive. 

It takes you through a guided assessment to help you better understand your strengths, how to harness them and it also releases regular articles on the science behind being happy for you to read. 

Why I like it: Honestly Happify encompasses so many core values I live by. It uses knowledge, science and simple strategies to help you find your way around the elusive emotion of “happiness”. 

Why I don't like it: I don't want to sound cheap when I say this, but I do feel this app doesn't offer as much value as it should for its free version. It's more frustrating than usual to do anything on the app as so many features are unavailable if you don't pay. 

Cost: Basic features for free with the option to upgrade to full access. 

Overall ranking: 7/10 (I’d give it a 9/10 if it made a few more features available for free.) 

Gratitude 

gratitude-apps-for-people-with-a-chronic-illness

What it does for you: This is a very simple app that allows you to document something that you’re grateful for every day. It’s useful if you’re not interested in writing out journal entries and prefer to diarise random thoughts. 

Why I like it: Managing mental health is super hard and we all need different coping strategies. I like using Gratitude because I can be a bit of a creative (slightly scattered) thinker sometimes. And this is something I can use whenever a random thought of kindness or gratitude enters my mind. 

No funny business or procedure – when I feel like writing anything good I can go here.  

Why I don't like it: There's nothing bad I can say about this app. I really do like all its features and I feel it achieves its goal. The only upgrade I could suggest is that it could consider people's journeys. 

Everyone has chosen to download the app for a reason (in your case its health) and it would be nice for the app to take that information and use it to coach and direct in a more personalised way.  

Cost: Free with an option to upgrade to premium features. 

Overall ranking: 7/10 

Daylio

daylio-apps-for-people-with-a-chronic-illness

What it does for you: Daylio is an app that you can use to report on what you did that day and your overall mood. 

It’s appealing because it uses a simple documenting process where you don’t even type your answers – just click a few buttons and all your data gets stored and presented on a graph. 

Why I like it: To be honest I just like this app because it makes reporting on your daily activities super easy – just under 3 minutes. And once you’re done clicking the right buttons, it shows you how much you actually achieved. More often than not I surprise myself in a good way! 

Why I don't like it: Beyond recording the type of activity you've done (e.g. sport, cooking, shopping etc.) the app doesn't really let you add any additional information on what you did. So any special occasions can't really be documented here. 

Cost: Free, free, free 🙂 

Overall ranking: 6/10 

Pathways 

pathways-apps-for-people-with-a-chronic-illness

What it does for you: Pathways is an app that you can use to help you manage your pain through guided meditation, visualisation, isochronic sounds, yoga and so much more. 

You can also use the app to monitor your “journey to pain relief” as it puts it, through the progress of your body, mind and soul. 

Why I like it: If you’ve got chronic pain, then you’ll know how hard it is to find any pain management strategy that works for you. Everything can feel too overwhelming to start or strenuous to follow through on. 

I know this feeling so well. I like Pathways because it helps you when you need it without setting any expectations from you. 

There’s something so peaceful about having a place to go when you need to be soothed and nothing more. 

Why I don't like it: The only thing that I find a little challenging when using the app is the option to fast forward or rewind during a video is a little difficult with the toggle bar as it doesn't let you choose an exact time frame. Other than that, it's great! 

Cost: Free for general use with an option to upgrade for special features. 

Overall ranking: 8/10 

Cozi 

cozi-apps-for-people-with-a-chronic-illness

What it does for you: Cozi is a calendar / organisational chart that you can use with your family to help you manage your schedules and get sh*t done. Each of you has the app and is updated if any events are added. 

You can add anything from appointments, shopping lists or even use it to capture important moments you share together. 

Why I like it: If you lead a busy home life but things like brain fog make it difficult to keep everyone up-to-speed on what’s going on – this app really does help you. 

I like it because it’s a passive way to keep everyone informed on who’s doing what and when. Even yourself! No need to call or keep reminders on the fridge – just check your phone. 

Why I don't like it: Once again, this is a really good app. But I feel that a few more features should be made free to really make it worthwhile for a whole family to use.

Features like contacts or birthday trackers are free on Google calendars and I'd need a bit of convincing as to why I shouldn't just use that instead.  

Cost: Free for general use with an option to upgrade for special features. 

Overall ranking: 7/10 

If you're feeling overwhelmed by your chronic illness right now – I know that it takes a lot to work through it. You can give this article a read for some practical solutions: How to Cope When You Feel Overwhelmed By Your Chronic Illness.

Day One

day-one-apps-for-people-with-a-chronic-illness

What it does for you: Day One is a journaling app that gives you a clear and easy way to document anything you’d like to keep tabs on. It’s versatile – so you can add anything from voice notes, photos or even videos along with the text. 

What I like about it: Although I still like writing things out in the old school way – I love the fact that this app allows you to store all kinds of media with your journal entries. I don’t need to print all my progress pics – I just share them with the app and it documents the date. 

What I also like is that it gives you a little inspiration when you have writer’s block by asking you random and pretty fun questions.

Why I don't like it:  The only thing that irritated me was that I couldn't upgrade the account on a month-to-month basis. It only allows for an annual subscription which is quite expensive and, therefore, a more serious commitment. 

Once again, I have to question whether the cost of its premium option is worth the apps convenience – and I'm not sure that it is. 

Cost: Free for general use with an option to upgrade for special features. 

Overall ranking: 6/10 

Endive

endive-apps-for-people-with-a-chronic-illness

What it does for you: Endive is an app that allows you to document and track each meal you eat and any gut health-related symptoms or triggers you pick up on during that time. It then is compiled into a weekly report for you to look back over. 

Why I like it: Although I don't have any chronic gut health issues – anything that will help me refine my ability to understand my body’s needs is awesome! 

I love the fact that this app really helps you understand how your food intake could be influencing your wellbeing in a visual way that’s easy to understand. 

Why I don't like it: If you only have gut-related issues then this app is simple to follow. However, if you have various conditions then you need to consider how each one affects your body in different ways and omit it from the app data.

For example, you may have eaten extremely well but your pain is sky-high because you have fibro too and the weather has been bad. You need to decide whether you choose to report on your pain levels or not – knowing they aren't food-related. 

Cost: Basic features for free with the option to upgrade to full access. 

Overall ranking: 6/10 

Me. Meditation

me-meditate-apps-for-people-with-a-chronic-illness

What it does for you: Me. Meditation is an app used to help you find a balanced lifestyle in areas that you feel need to be worked on. From stress, focus, motivation, self-esteem, relationships and more. 

It helps you work on these different aspects of your life through guided breath-work, meditation, articles and even set courses. 

Why I like it: I’m quite obsessed with this app. It’s like entering a little world each time you log on that you can just immerse yourself into. 

It gives you so many unique ways to cope with daily struggles like anxiety, sleep, or coping with brain fog. Again, through meditation and other similar coping mechanisms. 

Best of all, it’s simple to use and quick to follow. If you have 10 minutes to cool off after a heated fight. You can log on, do a 5-minute anger-management session and then keep going about your day (hopefully happier). 

Why I don't like it: Can I just say again – I love this app. The only bad thing I have to mention is that, much like Happify, I do feel it could offer a little more for free. The overall cost for getting full access is high and it's not an easy decision to make. 

Cost: Basic features for free with the option to upgrade to full access. 

Overall ranking: 9/10 


Each one covers something different so it's a little difficult to tell you which ones you should use together. But I can say that the two basic apps anyone with a chronic illness should have on their phone right now are: Flaredown and My Medical ID

If you liked the sound of any of these apps then you should definitely give them a go. And when you do I want to know exactly what you think. Even if I like them – it doesn’t mean you have to. 

And of course, if you think I’ve missed out an important one – pop your suggestions in the comment section below. I’ll make sure to give them a try. 

Happy downloading everybody 🙂 

Marina

Marina Wildt is an experienced health and wellness writer, chronic illness warrior and founder of The Discerning You. In the last 12 years, she has gone from being paralysed in a wheelchair to living a full life alongside her conditions and now she wants to share all the practical advice that she has learnt with you.


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