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
7 Reasons You Should Not Pay Off a Mortgage Before Retirement
7 Reasons You Should Not Pay Off a Mortgage Before Retirement

Here’s why it often makes financial sense to carry a mortgage into retirement.

9 Foods You Should Never Buy Again
9 Foods You Should Never Buy Again

Make the wrong food choices, and you can ruin your health — and possibly shorten your life.

The Most Common Reason That Older Adults Fall Down
The Most Common Reason That Older Adults Fall Down

The good news: It’s possible to avoid potentially devastating falls.

14 Products That Keep Foods Fresh Longer
14 Products That Keep Foods Fresh Longer

We’ve rounded up innovative Amazon purchases to lengthen the life of your favorite foods and beverages.

5 Medicare Mistakes to Avoid for a Healthy Retirement
5 Medicare Mistakes to Avoid for a Healthy Retirement

Medicare can be confusing. Beware these missteps — which can hike your costs.

View this page without ads

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

Get Started

Most Popular
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

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.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

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.

14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare
14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach
10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach

Does the pandemic have you reaching for bleach more than ever before? Learn the ins and outs of using this powerful disinfectant.

15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

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.