Screenshot of the HealthyDay app, depicting illness and allergies around Seattle.
At a coffee shop near Amazon’s headquarters, I am surrounded by sickness. A case of pink eye lurks nearby, there can be no doubt. Fevers are rising in every direction. The entirety of South Lake Union seems awash in health risks. I sip my tea, clear my throat – is that congestion I feel?
I’ve known hypochondriacs, constantly convinced they’re coming down with something. I’ve known germaphobes who carry anti-bacterial moist towelettes around, perceiving the world as a veritable petri dish in microscopic filth. For these groups, there is a new mobile app that may very well be their worst nightmare. Or the validation they’ve always sought.
This month, a division of Johnson & Johnson – purveyors of Tylenol and Sudafed, among other drugs – launched an iPhone app named HealthyDay. That cheerful name masks what could be the most disconcerting mobile tool in existence.
Drew Atkins is a journalist and writer in Seattle, and the recipient of numerous national and regional awards. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Seattle Times, The Oregonian, InvestigateWest, Geekwire, Seattle Magazine, and others. He also previously served as the managing editor of Crosscut. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.