Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

New app from Sunlight Foundation gives scoop on hospitals and prescription drugs

Aug. 9, 2011, 9:17 a.m., Posted by Andries Vaisman

Teen Girl Texting in Hospital Waiting Area

 

Sunlight Foundation has released a new app that will help people make informed decisions about healthcare services and prescription drug options.  The project is the first in a series of Knight-funded apps developed by Sunlight to help make public information more available and actionable for citizens, and supports Knight's commitment to promoting informed and engaged communities.

Sunlight Health works by presenting data in three simplified categories: healthcare facilities, suppliers and prescription drugs.  Once users have downloaded the app, which is available for free in Apple’s iTunes store or in Google’s Android Market, they can use their cell phones to search for the most up-to-date information about hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis clinics, health care suppliers, prescription drugs and more

For example, in the case of an emergency, users could enter a search query for the closest hospital.  Thanks to the app’s built-in geo-location services, information on hospitals and health clinics in the area would be presented with reviews from government databases like the Center for Medicare and Medicaid’s Hospital Compare, along with comments from peers.  Users could search the same way to find evaluations of prescription medication, with info coming from the Consumer Reports Health Best Buy Drugs ratings in addition to individual consumer reports.

Of course, the app is not without its limitations.  “The data in Sunlight Health, intended for informational purposes only and not to supplant the advice or guidance of health care professionals, comes from multiple sources,” wrote Bill Allison on Sunlight’s blog.

So far, the story has been picked up by several major news sources, including the St. Louis Today, the Green Bay Press Gazette, the Philadelphia Courier, and Care Giving, a blog that specializes in healthcare news for consumers.

Check out the articles above to find out more about Sunlight Health, or read the release to learn about other apps to come over the next year.