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Uber-app Macaw to watch those fitness goals like a hawk

Not only does the new Macaw app track various health activities and metrics, it also serves as a hub for other health-related apps, wireless devices, and even lab results.

All right, people, I hate to be the bearer of such grave news, but resolution season is almost upon us. If you're wondering how to make 2012 the year you finally shed those extra pounds, start choosing the apple over the fries, floss every day, etc., read on.

U.S. Preventive Medicine

As of late last night, there's an app for all that--and it's free. Called Macaw, the app for iPhone and Android phones could just be the health and fitness app game changer.

Developed by U.S. Preventive Medicine alongside wireless health network provider Qualcomm Life, design firm Fjord (of Flickr fame), and former NFLer Joe Theisman, Macaw sets itself apart from the flock by serving as the central hub for all of one's health-related apps, not to mention connectivity to a series of wireless devices, lab results, and more.

It also features built-in GPS for running and cycling tracking, and it allows for the manual inputting of other activities such as swims and climbs, not to mention one's food (and caloric) intake. Through a quick seven-question health assessment (i.e. do you smoke, drink alcohol, exercise moderately 30 minutes five times a week, etc.), Macaw even includes goal-setting and automated screening reminders based on gender and age.

"We always think we're bulletproof," said Fred Goldstein, president of U.S. Preventive Medicine, who has been working on Macaw for about eight months, in time to introduce it at the 2011 mHealth Summit in Washington, D.C., this week. "As a young person, I didn't get these screenings, do the lab work, have a family physician. But it's important to know your risks. Knowledge is power."

Before we get too excited about the seemingly limitless power of a free app to make all our health dreams come true, there's a catch. And it comes with a $229 annual price tag (unless you belong to Sam's Club, in which case Goldstein says it's just $99).

Because the app is just the front door. It turns out that the ultimate way to track all aspects of one's health is by signing up for the company's Prevention Plan, a 3-year-old program that is by no means free (see above). Still, Tommy Thompson, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Services, said it could be the "biggest innovation in health care in the last 30 years."

The Prevention Plan involves a thorough questionnaire that pumps out a full risk assessment and intervention plan, not to mention a summary report for one's physician. Originally designed to help employers, the program even includes blood work, nurse advocates to provide guidance, and alerts about upcoming appointments, screenings, and exams.

Today, by itself, the Macaw app is very much in version 1.1, initially allowing integration with the Fitlinxx Actiped+ all-day activity monitor and WorkSmart Labs' weight loss and fitness app, Noom Weight Loss.

Until it's conversant in the coming months and years with a wider range of apps and wireless devices, such as weight scales and glucose monitors, it will lean rather heavily on its older brother, the Prevention Plan for optimal health management--something to which Goldstein fully admits.

"This is first-generation," he says. "There's a lot more to come from Macaw."