Can your smartphone improve your health? You might be surprised. Among the millions of smartphone apps out there, you will find programs far more valuable than the latest games and social networks. Imagine apps that let you see a doctor – virtually or in person – from the comfort of your home. There are apps for appointment scheduling, apps for medication reminders, apps for tracking activity and apps for consolidating your medical records. Of course, some apps are more innovative, more unique or simply more useful than others. These 15 free apps are top-performing options for making personal health easier with any mobile device.
If you’ve ever called a doctor’s office, waited on hold and went through the tedious process of providing all of your personal, medical and insurance information only to find out that it will be weeks before you can get an appointment, ZocDoc is for you. Endorsed by both Becker’s Hospital Review and MTI College, ZocDoc eliminates the weeks-long waits and the hassle of making an appointment. The app allows patients to view open appointment time slots in the next 24 hours and book their appointments instantly online, without being put on hold. You can also view verified patient reviews of providers and receive appointment reminder notifications. ZocDoc is free for both iPhone and Android users.
Forgetting to take your medicine isn’t a new problem, but apps like Medisafe offer a new solution for today’s tech-savvy patient population. It happens to everyone: your doctor prescribes a medication, you get the prescription filled and then… life gets in the way. Failing to take your medication can be costly as well as dangerous, with medication non-adherence costs adding up to $300 billion. The plastic pillboxes your grandparents used might help you keep your medications organized, but they also clutter up your home, and they still won’t remind you when it’s time to take your medicine. Medisafe turns your smartphone into a “virtual pillbox” that sends you notifications at the exact time you’re supposed to take your medicine. Import your prescriptions from major pharmacy chains such as CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens or easily add your prescriptions (and non-prescription vitamins and supplements) yourself. Patients using Medisafe see significant health improvements as a result of taking their medication precisely as directed, especially for conditions such as chronic hypertension. You can also use the app to keep track of refills and measurements, learn about your medical conditions and get coupons to use toward future prescriptions. The app is a great choice for families and caregivers, since it allows add dependents and “Medfriends” to your account. Medisafe is HIPAA-compliant and available for free on Google Play and the App Store.
Imagine healthcare with no appointments, open 24 hours, from the comfort of your own home or, for that matter, from anywhere in the world. AmWell, powered by American Well and accredited by the American Telemedicine Association, offers just that. Through the app, you can have a virtual urgent care visit for as little as $69 if uninsured, or just the cost of your copay if you have one of more than 35 accepted health insurance companies. You can also see providers in other specialties, including therapy, psychiatry, physical therapy, dermatology, speech therapy, pediatrics, women’s health and nutrition. When you see a doctor through AmWell, you will have the benefits of a real-time, face-to-face interaction with a real doctor via secure video technology using your smartphone or desktop computer. If you have to pay the full visit cost without health insurance picking up any part of the tab, you will be happy to know that it’s far less than the $645 average national cost for an emergency room visit or even the $139 average national cost of an office visit. AmWell was named the most popular consumer telehealth app worldwide two years running, and in 2018 engaged in high-profile business deals with massive health insurer Anthem and Avizia’s hospital-based telehealth platform. The app is free for both iPhones and Androids.
When you struggle with mental health issues – or even with coping with difficult life changes and events – counseling can be an invaluable option for working toward recovery. However, the process of getting the help you need can be intimidating. You may not be sure what sort of mental health treatments your insurance plan offers. If you don’t have insurance, the expense can seem too great. Even if you’re not worried about finding and affording a therapist, making the call to set up an appointment – not to mention traveling to a therapist’s office – can just seem too difficult for someone in the midst of an episode of depression or anxiety, someone in the grip of addition or someone feeling overwhelmed by grief after a loss or a trauma. An answer to these obstacles is Talkspace, an online therapy platform with more than 2,000 licensed therapists that offers private therapy services for individuals and couples facing an array of challenges. You can get matched with a therapist and get help through unlimited text, video and audio messaging services daily for as little as $49 per week. Live online sessions are also available in premium packages. Talkspace has more than one million users and in 2018 partnered with 28-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps, who publicly shared his story about his own battle with depression and urged others suffering from mental health issues to get help through the service. The Talkspace app is free for iPhone and Android, and the service is compatible with all devices from smartphones to tablets to desktop computers.
If you long for the days when doctors made house calls, an app called Heal could be just what you’re seeking. Through the Heal app, you can schedule a house call visit with a doctor for primary care, preventive care, urgent care and pediatric care. Patients without insurance pay just $99 per visit, and those insurance with can get a clear price for their portion of the bill even before they book their appointment. In the first two years of the company’s existence – starting out in select cities in 2015 – Heal was responsible for 16,000 house calls, which cut non-emergency visits to the emergency room by nearly two-thirds and saved millions of dollars in the process. As of September 2018, Heal house calls are only available in Florida and Washington, D.C., though the company has announced plans to expand nationwide, starting in New York, Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania. The Heal app is free for iPhones and Androids, and patients can also schedule appointments through the website.
If there’s one thing a parent dreads more than their child getting sick, it’s having to take that sick child away from the comforts of home to get care. The last thing your baby wants when he or she isn’t feeling well is to be dragged to the pediatrician’s office and have to sit in an uncomfortable, germ-ridden waiting room – or worse, if it’s outside of normal business hours, an emergency room. CareConnect aims to solve that problem by offering round-the-clock, on-demand live video visits with the pediatric experts at Nemours Children’s Health System. Parents in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Georgia and Florida can get help for their children’s coughs, fevers, runny noses, stomach issues, headaches, pinkeye, colds and even insect or animal bites and other non-emergency injuries 24/7 through the app. CareConnect treats children from ages newborn to 18, and you don’t have to be an existing Nemours patient to use CareConnect. The platform even allows parents to schedule specialist appointments though a live video chat. The cost of cost ranges from $0 to $59, depending on whether you have health insurance that covers telemedical care. Both Apple and Android users can download the app for free.
7. Maven Clinic Co.
Any woman who has ever been rushed out of an exam room before her questions are answered, had her health concerns dismissed by indifferent doctors or waited weeks for a callback or a prescription can attest that women’s healthcare doesn’t always meet our standards. Maven offers an alternative “digital clinic” that proves that women’s healthcare can be better. Through Maven, women can speak to medical providers through video chats and private messages for help with general health concerns, nutrition and physical therapy, mental health and wellness, prenatal and postpartum care and pediatric care for their family. Virtual visits are a solution to problems such as living in a rural area where in-person care options are limited, having to bring the kids along to a face-to-face appointment and simply putting self-care on the backburner in favor of focusing on the family’s needs. Care through Maven’s digital clinic is also more affordable even than most face-to-face visits covered by insurance, since appointment costs start at just $18 (lower than many copayments). The app itself is free through the App Store and Google Play, and the service can also be used via a desktop computer.
8. FH Cost Lookup / FH CCSalud
Given the high cost of medical care, it’s no surprise that patients often worry about how much their treatment will cost. The FH Cost Lookup / FH CCSalud app helps patients figure out and plan for their treatment costs. The service allows patients to search up to five medical or dental codes at a time or search by category to view the estimated charge, reimbursement amount and out-of-pocket amount for the care they plan to receive. Patients enter their location at the start of the search to ensure that the costs reported are relevant for their area. The app also provides a glossary of medical and insurance terms and resources regarding insurance coverage and patients’ rights. The app is free for iPhone and Android users and offers information in both English and Spanish.
What if, instead of going to the emergency room, the emergency room came to you? That’s what happens when you download the DispatchHealth app in more than half a dozen cities scattered across the United States. You can easily request care through the app (or the old-fashioned way, by calling), and a board-certified medical team equipped with all of the tools needed to provide advanced medical care will arrive at your doorstep, usually within one hour. The DispatchHealth team can stitch wounds, splint injuries, perform urinalysis and advanced blood tests, insert catheters, administer fluids and medications by IV and conduct rapid infectious disease testing. You can also use the service for more routine medical problems, such as headaches, sore throats, stomach issues, rashes, hives and eye infections. Your medical team will even fill in your primary care provider and call in your prescriptions, so you don’t have to do anything else. DispatchHealth isn’t just more convenient. It’s also eight to 10 times cheaper than the average ER visit, with a total cost of $150 to $300, and accepts most health insurance policies. The wait time is just one hour, compared to four hours on average in the ER – and of course, you’re waiting in the comfort of your own home. When the service was founded in 2013, it only treated patients in Denver, CO, but today it also operates mobile emergency care teams in Colorado Springs; Oklahoma City, OK; Phoenix, AZ; Houston, TX, Las Vegas, NV and Richmond, VA. The app is free on iTunes and the Google Play store.
Managing your health records can be a challenge, and the more providers you see, the more records you have. An app called healow, which stands for “health and online wellness,” can give you access to all of your electronic health records (EHRs) in one place, cutting the clutter and giving you more control of your health. More than 100,000 providers in more than 50,000 locations participate in healow, allowing their patients to have immediate access to their complete medical records, including laboratory test results and medications. In addition to viewing your consolidated health records, you can also transfer them between providers to make sure everyone’s records are up-to-date and that all of your doctors are on the same page. The app also offers features that allow you to book appointments, set medication reminders, submit medication refill requests and track data such as activity, body mass index and blood pressure. You can add accounts for minor children or for a spouse or aging parent, with that adult’s consent. There are also specialized healow Kids and healow Mom apps by the same maker, eClinicalWorks LLC, that focus on records from pediatricians and prenatal care providers, respectively. Each of these apps are free for iPhone and Android users.
11. athenaWell Care Management (formerly Patient IO)
You go to your doctor’s appointment with the best of intentions, but once you leave the office, it’s so easy to forget the daily activities that make up your treatment plan. An app called athenaWell offers a solution to this problem by keeping you in contact with your Care Manager between office visits. The athenaWell app builds upon the Patient IO platform, launched as a startup in 2013 and acquired by athenahealth in 2016. To use the app, your Care Manager must invite you to the platform. Then your provider can send push notifications to your mobile device to remind you of actionable tasks to do as part of your health plan. You can also use the app to track your completed tasks and report your progress and health data to your Care Manager. A secure messaging function allows you to communicate with your medical team, so you don’t have to put off questions until your next appointment. Both Apple and Android users can download the app for free, though patients must find out if their providers are registered with the service to use the app.
12. GoodRx Drug Prices and Coupons
Climbing pharmaceutical costs are a massive problem, and millions of Americans have trouble affording their prescription medications. Fortunately, there’s an app for that. The GoodRx Drug Prices and Coupons app, which promotes itself as “the #1 free medical app for iOS and Android,” helps patients save money on their medications. In the app, patients can search for prescription medications at more than 75,000 pharmacies to help them find the lowest prices for their medicine in their area. The app automatically finds free coupons for the selected prescription that you can activate with no more effort beyond tapping a “Get Coupon” button and can show to your pharmacist upon picking up your prescription, without the hassle of printing and organizing paper coupons. You can even save prescriptions that you take on an ongoing basis so that the app can help you keep track of prices and always find the best deal, as well as getting savings alerts and reminding you about upcoming prescription refills. Using GoodRx can cut your prescription medication spending by as much as 80 percent, and the app’s users save an average of $276 a year. That’s a big savings for a free app, especially one that takes just 90 seconds to use.
13. MINDBODY: Fitness, Salon & Spa
You know that true wellness isn’t just about the doctors you see, but also the lifestyle you live. The MINDBODY: Fitness, Salon & Spa app works hard to make personal wellness easier by helping you find services that fit your life in the categories of fitness, wellness and beauty. Look for fitness centers near you or even search for and book exercise classes on the days and times that work best for your schedule. You can schedule more than a dozen wellness services, including massages, acupuncture sessions, meditation and water therapy, easily from the app. Of course, you feel your best when you look your best, and the app also includes a beauty section that will direct you to local hair salons, nail salons, facial treatments and other beauty services. MINDBODY users can view money-saving introductory offers and instantly compare exercise classes between competing gyms and fitness centers. By cutting down on the hassle of scheduling your next workout class, massage or hair salon, the MINDBODY app allows you to truly focus on wellness and can even remove the obstacles and excuses that cause you to put off the exercise, relaxation or other care that is so valuable to your wellbeing. The app is available for free in the App Store and Google Play Store.
MyChart is consistently the top-rated patient portal. The service’s mobile app allows patients to take their access to online appointment scheduling, electronic health records and patient-doctor communication on the go. The software company behind MyChart, Epic Systems, hosts the electronic records of more than 200 million patients. MyChart consolidates online access to records from all of your participating healthcare organizations in one convenient place. Through the mobile app, you can see your test results, prescribed medications, immunization history and medical records on your smartphone or tablet. Appointment scheduling and bill pay features allow patients to set up appointments and pay for services simply. You can also contact your doctor through MyChart to ask a question or share medical records from other physicians. If you use an activity tracking app, you can pull health and fitness data from that tracker and add it to your MyChart records. MyChart offers secure communication for free for both iPhone and Android users, and the widespread popularity of the online patient portal service among healthcare organizations makes the app relevant across some of the largest and most respected healthcare systems.
Since the first Classic Fitbit was released in 2009, more than 63 million of the wearable activity trackers have been sold. Today’s Fitbit trackers work with the official Fitbit app and are also compatible with a number of third-party apps that serve purposes such as expanded calorie counting, personalized workouts and brain training. The Fitbit app itself has numerous features, from tracking steps and monitoring heart rate to logging food and measuring hydration, and it even offers a social component through the ability to compete with friends and family and share workout photos. Even if you don’t own one of the Fitbit wearable devices, health-conscious smartphone users can benefit from the Fitbit app’s MobileTrack feature, which allows you to use your phone to track basic health and activity data such as steps, distance, calories burned, weight changes and fitness goals. The Fitbit app is free on the App Store, Google Play and Windows Store.