While the step counters and run tracker apps of the world get most of the attention, a growing number of apps in the marketplace are serving serious clinical needs.

One is AliveCor‘s AliveECG app, which will soon run an algorithm that detects atrial fibrillation (AF), a serious type of heart arrhythmia that’s often a precursor to stroke. For people with a history or heart trouble, or atrial fibrillation specifically, the app and the algorithm could provide a life-saving early warning system.

San Francisco-based AliveCor went through a rigorous process with the Food and Drug Administration to prove the accuracy and efficacy of the algorithm. The FDA is particularly interested in reviewing appsthat provide any type of actionable, diagnostic information to users, as AliveCor’s app clearly does.

AliveCor's heart monitor nodule attached to an iPhone.