2013 The Year of the Health App

Is 2013 the year of the health app? It’s shaping up that way. Although developers have come up with apps for clinicians to diagnose and manage diseases, the use of medical apps by consumers is growing rapidly. The market has experienced a surge in applications, so much so that now the government is getting in on the act. Here’s a list of health apps offered for free by the Department of Health and Human Services. I was pleasantly surprised to see them getting aboard.

1) 52 Weeks for Women’s Health by the National Institute of Health for Android and iPhone. This app gives the user weekly lifestyle tips and information on health topics ranging from eye health to contraception. You can also keep track of your medications and allergies.

2) BMI Calculator by National Institutes of Health for iPhone. The is one of the most popular tools on the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute’s website. Body Mass Index is a reliable indicator of total body fat, which is an indicator of disease risk and overall health. The site receives 1.6 million visits a month. The mobile version gives you results on your phone as well as links to healthy weight resources on the NHLBI website.

3) Brrrd Brawl for iPhone is a game designed to support Smokefree Teen by offering teens an option for idle hands other than lighting up. This is clever but I’m not sure how well it works. It seems to me you’d need more help than this, like maybe this next one.

4) NCI QuitPal for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch. The National Cancer Institute created this app to help you become smoke free. It offers proven strategies to help you succeed. Features include calendar functions to set a quit date, financial goals by date,  with graphics to show you how much money you’ve saved, health milestones and other alerts to keep you motivated throughout. It has Facebook and Twitter integration so you can share your challenges and successes with your friends and they can cheer you on.

5) CDC Influenza for iPad iPhone, iPod Touch.  This Center for Disease Control application is for healthcare professionals. It offers updated information on national flu activity and the latest recommendations for diagnosis and treatment. The new information is “pushed” to your iPhone so you always have the most recent data at your fingertips.

6) NLM Native Voices by National Library of Medicine for iPad.  This is really cool. I wish there were more apps like this one. Using this application you can explore video from the Native Voices exhibition and learn how native peoples in Alaska and the lower 48 improve their wellness through both traditional and western healing practices. Hear individuals share stories about the medicinal practices of their native culture. Topics include traditional healing, modern treatments, death, and the relationship of health and illness to military service. This app could help doctors and patients agree on the perfect blend of traditional and western healing practices. It would be great to see this for other ethnicities too. When the doctor understands the patient’s culture and the patient understands the goals of treatment then everyone is on the same page. Wow way to go HHS! That’s forward thinking!

Carol Traulsen

Carol is a contributing writer for DigiYoo. She's a freelance writer from the Seattle area. Some of her books include 3 Luv's Life and Flash Flower are available on Amazon for Kindle exclusively. 3 will be available for the next five days for free.

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