PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There’s an app for just about everything these days, but how about an app that tells you which neighborhood has a heavy dose of the flu, or 14 other medical ailments?
“If you’re trying to find out what’s going on around you, you want to know what doctors are diagnosing around you,” says Dan Shaw, of DoctorsReport.com, who developed the app.
The app is called the Doctors Report Illness Tracker, and it can tell you what doctors are diagnosing in the zip codes all around you.
One of the color maps of the Pittsburgh area, for example, shows influenza cases, with the dark purple having the most cases. Take West Mifflin, for example. It has an influenza high 9.5 on a 10-point scale.
“This is the number of cases based on historical records, so we can see that, obviously, it was quite calm until January,” Shaw explained to KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Wednesday.
Shaw, the retired chief counsel of Kraft-Heinz, says — from the very young to the old — we should all know where illness is around us.
“You may be interested in knowing because it’s important to try to avoid,” he said. “And then there are prevention steps that you can take, and I think you ought to step up your game when there’s a lot of illness around.”
So where is all this interesting medical information about you and your neighbors coming from? And does it violate your personal privacy rights with your personal physician to get it?
Shaw won’t share his sources, but says they gather doctors’ reports submitted for insurance claims from over 900,000 doctors’ offices.
And he says it’s all quite legal.
“It’s de-identified data, HIPAA-safe. It’s absolutely not trackable to any particular individual and absolutely HIPAA-free,” he says.
The Illness Tracker app is free and available from the Apple App Store, Google Play, Amazon, or www.doctorsreport.com.
Besides influenza, the app also tracks such illnesses as bronchitis, ear infections, MRSA, pneumonia, Lyme disease, sore throats, and even the common cold. And within the zip code, it can also break down by age categories to see, for example, what is hitting the youngsters versus the seniors.
Again, Shaw says he’s not trying to keep people from visiting friends and relatives in affected communities. He just wants them to take commonsense health precautions.