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5 Questions to Consider When Downloading Health Apps

Apps are useful in keeping us organized. They help us to order takeout, call for transportation and even budget our finances and expenses. There are also apps that can help us keep track of our overall health.

The health apps can record and count our calories, turn our smartphones into pedometers and count our daily steps. Some can even log and chart our blood pressure, blood sugars and basal body temperatures when we are trying to get pregnant.

With so many health apps on the market, how do we choose the one that is best? Here are 5 questions to to help you weed out the good from the bad:

1. Is the app making a diagnosis?

If the app is telling you that you have a certain illness or condition and is making recommendations for treatment, do not use it and report it. An app is no substitute for assistance and evaluation from medical professionals who have seen you and run a battery of tests.

2. How well does it work?

Nothing is more unnerving than an app that is too complicated, has too many ads or glitches. If it doesn’t work to your liking, bypass it and move on to something else. Apps should be user-friendly.

3. Is it “evidence-based?”

Evidence-based means that it is based on scientific research. If an app claims that it is, there’s an easy way to check for this. Go to PubMed, a free resource from the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, where those in the medical profession publish their research and studies. If an app’s claims do not bear out, then it is likely they’ve been fabricated.

4. How well does the app protect your privacy?

What should be most concerning here is whether or not they are selling your data to other companies, specifically marketing companies. Remember you health information is something you want to keep private. Therefore, if a company cannot assure you all privacy is honored, they are not worthy of your business.

5. How does the app make its money?

There are mainly two streams of revenue from which apps draw income: subscriptions or selling consumer data. If you pay a premium for the app or if you pay a monthly maintenance fee, then you can probably deduce that this is how they make their money, but check anyway. If the app doesn’t cost much and/or is free, it is very likely they make money by selling your personal information to third parties. In this latter case, you may want to find another app or continue to do the research as to whom they are selling your info.

Health apps can be useful. But, if you find one you like and you still have questions of uncertainty after answering the questions above, go with your gut and find another.

Have you had some good (or bad) experiences with health apps? Tell us about them in the comments below. Recommend those you think work the best. You can also contact us for more information! Feel free to shoot us an email to You can also find us on TwitterFacebook, InstagramLinkedIn, or even connect with us directly on our website!

About the Author: Aisha K. Staggers is a writer, lecturer, political analyst and literary agent. She appears weekly for “Staggers’ State of Things” on the Dr. Vibe Show. Her work has been published by Paper Magazine, AfroPunk, The Spool, GREY Journal, MTV News, HuffPost, Blavity, Atlanta Blackstar, For Harriet, New York Review of Books and a host of other first-run publications and syndicated outlets. Find her on Twitter @AishaStaggers. For more of her work, check out her page here!

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