Harvard Medical School Launches Swine Flu iPhone App

As the threat of the swine flu (otherwise known as H1N1) pandemic become more serious and President Obama declares a national emergency over the rapidly spreading virus, Harvard Medical School is hoping to help educate people with its new iPhone app. The Swine Flu app, which is currently available on the app store, costs $1.99.

The Swine Flu Application includes videos, animations and text that allow you to learn the basics about swine flu, how to reduce the risk to you and your family, and how to prepare your business for the pandemic. The app also features real-time updates and news from Harvard Med School about H1N1.

To let users determine how close outbreaks are to their location, the app has a “HealthMap” feature that lets you know about the state of the epidemic in your current location and other locations. For those uses who are feeling sick but unsure if it is attributed to H1N1, the app has an interactive symptom checker that helps you decide if your symptoms, or your child’s symptoms indicate swine flu, and when it is wise to contact your doctor. And the app includes hotlines and numbers to call (based on the user’s location) in case of an emergency or for more information about H1N1.

The app also includes a section devoted to helping businesses educate employees about the pandemic and includes guides on how to prepare a business to deal with the flu.

There are other apps that provide similar services, such as the Swine Flu Tracker by IntuApps, but none have the backing of one of the foremost medical institutions in the world. The Swine Flu App is part of Harvard Medical School’s greater mobile strategy, called HMS Mobile, which aims to deliver a series of iPhone Applications aimed at promoting public health. It’s not a bad idea, especially considering that Harvard is monetizing the app. It should be interesting to see if Harvard’s newest app takes off; perhaps we will start seeing more medical institutions looking to make a presence on the app store.