Blog Author: Tara Lyon 
The BC government made its first-ever foray into the world of mobile app development this week, launching the BC Health Services Locator. The app uses data from the HealthLinkBC website  and GPS to provide users with information on health services in their area, including hospitals, walk-in clinics, and 24-hour pharmacies. Clicking on pins on the map will display a service provider’s details such as proximity, hours of operation, and contact info.
The app is intended to assist users when they are unable to access their usual health service provider--if they are in an unfamiliar community, or trying to access services after-hours. It complements a series of web-based tools that have arrived on the scene in recent years to help patients more efficiently navigate the health care system (detailed in my December 2011 blog post, "Online tools speed surgery, services, and referrals ").
Like most apps, it sports a clean design and good navigability--and it’s free. In addition to tracking down health service providers in your area, you can also access health alerts from the HealthLinkBC site (such as the whooping cough alert currently in effect in the Fraser Valley), and find contact numbers for non-emergency health information and services (8-1-1, Poison Control, etc).
Did they really need an app for that? Most of the information provided through the app could be found by any savvy smartphone user through Google searching and map navigation, although I found that it searches more efficiently than I’ve been able to in the past--I saw quite a few clinics in my area that I was unaware of having done previous searches in the Telus pages.
The real benefit is the one-stop shopping--for a parent with a sick kid in an unfamiliar area or even late at night in their own city, the ability to find a clinic/ER/24-hour pharmacy with one or two taps on your screen is very appealing. It’s the one app on my iPhone I hope to never need!