The Alabama Department of Public Health has become possibly the first state health department to have a public mobile app. The department last month quietly released Apple iOS and Android versions of its mobile app, and made a public announcement late last week.
A free download from either Google Play or iTunes, the app is meant to improve dissemination of public health information to Alabama residents and to keep the public health community up to date about opportunities for continuing education.
"We wanted to combine all of our various social media feeds into one place," explained Jennifer Sumner, director of the department's social media branch. The agency maintains Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages, as well as several RSS feeds.
"We're hoping it could be a tool to use in case of an emergency or a disaster to get information out to the public," Sumner told MobiHealthNews.
In addition, the department runs a distance learning program, called the Alabama Public Health Training Network and co-developed with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for state and local public health workers in Alabama and beyond. Sumner said the app will include news and schedules for webcasts that count as continuing education for public health professionals.
As of Monday afternoon, the Android app had been downloaded between 50 and 100 times, according to the Google Play page. Apple does not disclose installation numbers for individual apps.
MobiHealthNews is not aware of any other state public health agency to release a mobile app.