Article in App of the Week category.

How We Feel: The Daily Wellness Check-In App

  The How We Feel app performs a simple function turned gravely necessary in the context of coronavirus: a daily wellness check-in. Its clean interface,…

The How We Feel app performs a simple function turned gravely necessary in the context of coronavirus: a daily wellness check-in. Its clean interface, ease of use, and contribution to public health make this app a clear 2020 winner.

To state the obvious: it’s easy to feel overwhelmed during a global pandemic. Supply chains, national governments, and health systems are navigating uncharted waters, and the consequences are high. As an individual, it’s hard to know where to start--both in terms of helping yourself get through quarantine, and extending care to others in greater need during this difficult time. How We Feel is a free app that accomplishes both. 

When you first log in to How We Feel, the app collects your basics: age, zip code, gender, preexisting health conditions, current symptoms, and COVID-19 results. You choose what time of day you’d like to be prompted for your check-in, and the app continues as a daily quiz. At your pre-selected time of day, you fill out physical and emotional feelings as well as recent trips outdoors. 

The app was developed by public health researchers at Harvard, who utilized a colleague’s trademark data collection techniques to design How We Feel for maximum public consumption with minimum private risk. Importantly, How We Feel does not require users’ names, email addresses, phone numbers, or location services. Everything is self-reported.

The challenge of an app like this is making it desirable enough to use daily. As much as we want to contribute to the public good, realistically, most of us are not going to contribute via a survey app on a regular basis unless there’s another incentive. How We Feel does a decent job of designing through this issue. The check-ins are short and sweet, and feature slide-able spectrums of various color-coded emotions that are collected daily into a correspondingly shaded heart. You can scroll through these hearts in the “You” tab at the center of the app. 

How We Feel tracks your emotional and physical journey through the COVID crisis. It's satisfying to check in on yourself, to visualize these check-ins, and to contribute to important data collection. 

When you finish filling out your check-in, How We Feel shows you the number of people who checked in that day within your zip code, how many of them felt well, and how many of them felt poorly. This same “Home” tab features a link to COVID-19 cases reported by the CDC. The final tab is another link to the CDC’s guidelines, a feature which might prove more useful if it aggregated local restrictions as well as national instructions. 

Given the scientific world’s attention to COVID-19, it’s somewhat surprising to learn that How We Feel is the only popular app for coronavirus data collection. Nonetheless, its presence is greatly necessary, and appreciated. When historians, medical professionals, and public health experts look back on 2020, How We Feel will prove an immeasurable resource. 

But enough about other people's apps.

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