5 Free Apps That Could Save Your Life

Photo (cc) by Veronica Belmont

Doctors’ desks used to be stacked with must-have guides with names like Physicians’ Desk Reference and Monthly Prescribing Reference. But nowadays, more and more doctors are ditching all the paper pages for one little tablet.

Tablet computer use has nearly doubled over the past year, according to a recent study. But apps are transforming health care for patients as much as they are for doctors – if not more.

Mobile technology has empowered us to take care of our own health like never before. If knowledge is power, life-saving knowledge is life-saving power – and these five free apps literally put it at your fingertips…

1. Epocrates’ Rx

Rx is supposedly the most-downloaded drug reference app among doctors. It includes drug information and identification details as well as drug interactions, the feature that makes the app indispensable for anyone who takes prescription or even over-the-counter medications.

Many drugs interact with (meaning they react to) certain other drugs or even with certain foods or drinks, sometimes with life-threatening results. Other drugs can’t be taken by people with certain medical conditions. So if your doctor or pharmacist forgets to warn you – which unfortunately happens all the time – an app like Rx could save your life.

2. Azumio Inc.’s Instant Heart Rate

This heart rate monitor app won the “Heath & Medicine” category in the 2011 Mobile Premier Awards, which are judged by industry experts. It uses your phone’s camera to take your heart rate (the number of times your heart beats per minute, or bpm) within seconds. The app even tells you whether your heart rate is low (green), average (yellow), or high (red) – the last of which could be a sign of a medical problem.

3. USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service’s Ask Karen

Worried you’ll take home the next E. coli-coated head of lettuce or Salmonella-soaked mango without realizing it? Fortunately, so is Uncle Sam – and Aunt Karen. The Department of Agriculture designed this app to answer your food safety questions while you’re at the grocery store, in your kitchen, or wherever. You can even live chat with a food safety expert on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. EST.

4. EPA’s UV Index

Remember when we told you 20 percent of us will develop skin cancer at some point in our life, and two million Americans are diagnosed with some form of the cancer each year? Well, the bad news is that’s still true.

The good news is that the Environmental Protection Agency’s app has made it a little easier to escape those statistics. While nothing fancy, it’s a mobile-friendly version of EPA.gov’s UV Index tool, which tells you – on a scale of 1 to 11-plus – when to be extra wary of the sun. Because as the FDA warns, even on an overcast day, up to 80 percent of the sun’s carcinogenic ultraviolet rays can penetrate the clouds.

5. American Red Cross’ First Aid

I learned about this app from Money Talks News’ in-house tech guru, Dan Schointuch, although he’s escaped the misfortune of needing to use it yet. I like having it in case of emergency while I’m hiking (cell signals are spotty to nil in the Everglades), but this app is as indispensable as a first aid kit no matter who you are or where you hang out. From cooking burns to heart attacks, the step-by-step instructions with pictures and videos should keep you calm and just may save your life.

Karla Bowsher worked in health care for 10 years before going into journalism. She covers health, consumer, and retail issues. If you have a comment, suggestion, or question, leave a comment or contact her at [email protected].

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
Big-Ticket Things You Should Never Buy
Big-Ticket Things You Should Never Buy

In this week’s podcast: Are you wasting big money on these common purchases?

The 3 Worst Money Mistakes You Are Making at the Gas Station
The 3 Worst Money Mistakes You Are Making at the Gas Station

Beware these cash-guzzling missteps when you stop at any gas station.

9 Ways to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal for Less Than $50
9 Ways to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal for Less Than $50

These products will instantly improve your home’s curb appeal without breaking the bank.

13 Small Gadgets Under $20 That Make Life Better
13 Small Gadgets Under $20 That Make Life Better

These inexpensive electronics will make your day-to-day life a little easier — and happier.

17 Surprising Things You Can Clean in a Dishwasher
17 Surprising Things You Can Clean in a Dishwasher

It’s often easier and faster to put these household items in the dishwasher than to clean them by hand.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?
Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss
21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Start off the new year by implementing these small-but-smart savings strategies. They’ll soon add up.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider
Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider

A new study has bad news for the millions of Americans who spend money on multivitamins.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry
9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked
11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked

Does your retirement budget account for all of these costs?

7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster
7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster

These tips can get your bathroom sparkling with little time and no elbow grease.

20 Amazon Purchases We Loved in 2020
20 Amazon Purchases We Loved in 2020

These practical products made everyday life a little easier last year — and will do so in the new year, too.

10 Times You’re Right to Be a Cheapskate
10 Times You’re Right to Be a Cheapskate

Clever shoppers can save money without sacrificing quality. Here is how to do it.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.