When it comes to mobile apps, the federal government isn't the first source you think of, or likely not even the tenth. But if you're looking for apps to help you stay healthy or to monitor your well-being, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services just launched a website listing its iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and tablet mini-programs. (See: "Take care or pay a higher share of your health care.")
I know, I know, I can hear the technoratti tittering right now over the thought of using anything but iTunes. But in the time it would take you to search through the inventory there, you could already have several downloaded from the HHS mobile app site.
While the list is short – there are just 25 -- it is impressive. If, however, you are not more than 30 pounds overweight and you use a mobile app to track your Body Mass Index (BMI), I'm not sure we can be friends. I'm more likely to be tracking bacon recipes than BMI. At any rate, you can also leave requests in the comments area for the types of apps you want to see from HHS in the future.
For now, here are some highlights:
- HRSA Find a Health Center: Federally-funded health centers will care for you, even if you have no health insurance --based on your income you pay what you can afford. This mobile app helps you find the nearest health center with the mapping software in your phone. Health centers are located in most cities and many rural areas.
- Health Hotlines: A directory of almost 9,000 organizations with toll-free telephone numbers. Subject areas included AIDS, cancer and other diseases and disorders, maternal and child health, aging, substance abuse, disabilities and mental health. Organizations included in the directory fall into many categories including: government agencies, information and referral centers, professional societies, support groups and voluntary associations.
- Reunite: This mobile app allows you to use the national missing and found people database. This database was launched to help family’s reunite after disasters and is part of the Lost Person Finder project. The app is primarily intended for the general public to report missing and/or found people. It is also useful for organizations, health care providers and relief workers helping family reunification efforts after a disaster.
Des Toups is a writer, editor and expert on insurance, cars and personal finance. He has written extensively about all three for national publications such as MSN and major newspapers such as the Seattle Times. He has been quoted about insurance issues in The New York Times, USA Today and Kiplinger's. Follow him on Twitter @destoups.