While the winter season brings the holidays, fun activities, and the occasional cozy snowfall, it also comes with the territory that you can catch a cold or virus far more easily. This week, we have an app that will help you track local health risks based on your location using real diagnostic data from doctors — including the flu.
Doctors Report — created by Knox Spencer Associates — allows you to easily see the most prevalent illnesses in your area. Available as both an app and website, Doctors Report tracks 15 conditions — both contagious diseases and other spreading health risks — with future plans to add even more. This includes Flu A, pneumonia, bronchitis, strep throat, and more.
“I think that common illnesses are under estimated by a lot of people,” Daniel Shaw, CEO of Knox Spencer Associates, told Digital Trends. “It puts you out for a week, or ten days, and makes you feel miserable. I think that’s something important and worth knowing about. And also, of course if you’re immune compromised or have other health problems which make common illness a greater threat, it’s even more important that you know what’s going on.”
To provide you with the information, Doctors Report uses the same data stream that’s used to report every patient’s visit to insurance companies and government agencies across the country. Using the app’s proprietary platform, the data is captured and registered through the various places the illnesses are reported. That way, it will always provide you with accurate and timely information.
Once you download and open the app, you’re shown the most severe illness that are currently in your area. At the top, you’ll see an area highlighted in yellow that showcases breaking health risks which are constantly being updated. By swiping through, you can read about the alerts nationally, locally, and regionally. While they’re not tied to an epidemic warning protocol followed by Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, they’re still current.
Underneath, you’ll see a severity thermometer that measures the illness on a scale of one to ten — one being light and ten being very high. There’s also a color coded map separated by National and Local areas you can zoom in on to see how severely each area is effected based on the scale. Below the map you’ll also find a bar graph that compares the severity of the illness based on specific time frame.
The app provides you with quick facts on the illness as well, in order to help you understand it. You can scroll through symptoms, transmission, how to prevent it, and treatment. But it’s also important to note that Doctors Report isn’t a substitute for diagnosis and treatment. It simply helps you understand it better and give you more information on whether or not you may possibly have it or what to look for when you’re feeling under the weather.
If you want more specific details, you can filter the information as well. By tapping on the section that reads “Track 15 Common Illnesses Reports From Doctors Offices Near You,” you’re brought to more options. From there, you can switch the age group effected — which starts at infant and goes all the way up to older adult — along with the particular illness, and the location. Once you tap “Update Report,” the app will apply all of the filters.
I specifically liked how easy the app is to use and appreciated the clean interface. All I had to do was open the app to see that Influenza — also known as the flu — was severe in my area. Below that, I was able to zoom in on exactly which local parts of my city had it worse than others giving me an idea of places I should probably steer clear from for a bit.
While I didn’t find myself using the bar graphs as much as I thought I would, it felt comforting to have the information available. I especially enjoyed having the symptoms and preventions available with a simple scroll, so that I didn’t have to search the web for different answers. It was nice to have all the information right in front of me in one, compact app.
In addition, there’s also a feed of timely news articles you can read through. With the flu going around, there’s content specifically focused on helping you get through it by offering more insight on the illness from flu shots to specific symptoms. But there aren’t a ton of articles available quite yet, hopefully once the app is done with its beta phase there will be more to come.
As for the website, it offers all the same information but in greater length. Even though it’s definitely useful, I found myself enjoying how convenient the app was. Since I use my phone for everything else anyway, whenever I was curious about the illnesses in my area, all I had to do was pull it up on my phone.
Fair warning though, this app could be as bad as WebMD for those who find themselves having anxiety over getting sick. While it’s a great tool, you might find yourself — like me — becoming a bit obsessive over constantly checking exactly what illnesses and risk are in your area. But it helps for when you’re planning on going away and want to take preventative measures to avoid getting sick.
Doctors Report and its accompanying website is slated to go live on February 7, and will be available for iOS, Android, and Amazon. A preview of the app is currently available for iPhone and Android users.