Anyone who travels frequently can attest: finding medical assistance while traveling in a strange city—especially in a foreign country, where language barriers can easily work against you—can be quite the challenge. But thankfully we live in an age chock full of so much convenient technology, that obstacle is becoming less of an issue.
I recently learned about an iPhone app called mPassport. It's a handy piece of software that is a wealth of information for anyone needing medical attention while away, whether it's routine or emergency service. What exactly can you do with the program?
Doctors & Dentists: Using GPS, the program will display a list of the closest offices. Not only that, but you can read up on the doctors' board certification, languages spoken (everyone included in the software's database speaks English), education, and training. Oh, and did I mention? You can actually book appointments with any of the doctors in the database.
Pharmacies: You can see the address, hours of operation, which credit cards are accepted, and connect to their website (if one is available).
Emergency Services: Connect immediately to the emergency service you need (ambulance, police, or fire department) via the foreign equivalent of 911. You can also browse a directory of the closest hospitals with 24/7 emergency rooms.
Drug Equivalency Guide: Not every country uses the same name for medicines, so with this feature, you can browse (alphabetically or via search) a huge database of drugs, see the generic name, and see what they're called in the country you're visiting. The app also lists the dosage(s) available and what forms it comes in (pill, cream, etc.).
Hospitals: You can view all the nearby hospitals, what types of services and facilities they offer, whether there's a 24-hour emergency room, the hours, website, and even the number of beds.
Another really cool feature of the phone? If you're in a non-English-speaking country, there's a bonus section with medical phrases and terms. Medical phrases topics range from allergies and symptoms, to everyday necessities like food and drink, to inquiring about restrooms. And to help with the potential language barrier problem, with the touch of a button, the app will teach you how to pronounce the local name, with a sound bite.
I should also mention that all of the offices and emergency destinations can be pulled up on a map—the green pin is your location, the red pin is the office/hospital.
So as much as we all hope that we don't have any medical emergencies—while on vacation or otherwise—this is a fantastic app to have on hand, just in case.
Current destinations offered: Barcelona, Budapest, Dublin, Florence, London, Madrid, Paris, Prague, Rome, Vienna, Cape Town, Nairobi, Buenos Aires, Lima, Mexico City, Quito, Bermuda, Nassau, Beijing, Hong Kong.
Oh, and I almost forgot the best part! These apps are completely free.
Joshua Pramis is an online associate editor at Travel + Leisure.