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Trusted Health Apps
There are literally thousands of health and medical apps available for your iPhone, Blackberry, Android or whatever smartphone you have in your hot little hands. The apps can be yours for less than a minute of download time and often less than a dollar or two.
Apps exist for tracking most health needs, whether recording distance on a track or finding a local pharmacy that carries your prescription. While these tech tools can help you take care of yourself better, there are some caveats. Most applications, including the ones mentioned here are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA has proposed the regulation of certain apps that deal with health and medical needs, although the rules address only a small fraction of programs, such as those that accompany already regulated medical devices. So you need to use your best judgment and check with a physician to ensure that a particular app meets your health needs.
iTriage was created by emergency physicians to answer the two most common medical questions: “What could be wrong?” and “Where should I go for treatment?”
Release date: March 2009
How it works: iTriage helps identify symptoms, then identifies possible treatments for specific conditions and, finally, suggests the most appropriate provider based on the user’s location. To find a symptom, you can interact with a rotatable sketch of a male or a female, click on a body part, and choose from a drop-down menu of common and less common symptoms. The app also provides ER wait times and preregistration for select hospitals and urgent care facilities around the country.
Fooducate helps consumers get the more complete nutritional data on grocery items, not just the marketing claims on the package.
Release date: January 2011
How it works: The app lets you scan a product at a store and find out its nutritional value, going beyond the government-mandated nutrition panel found on 200,000 food products. Fooducate’s goal is to simplify government-mandated data into useful and relevant information that can help a consumer make a decision, says Hemi Weingarten, founder and CEO of Fooducate, Ltd. It flags, for instance, excessive sugar, hidden transfats, additives and preservatives and food colorings.
BPMonitor, developed by Taconic System, LLC, keeps track of important health stats like blood pressure, weight and heart rate.
Release date: March 2011
How it works: The app enables you to track your vital health signs and those of your family members because it supports tracking for multiple people. For example, you can enter your systolic and diastolic blood pressure values, and the app plots how they change over time. All the stats appear in graphical, colored charts for easier interpretation. BPMonitor offers the choice of U.S. and metric units.