Mobile users can download a new health app that uses content from Mayo Clinic and lets them get in touch with personal health services and nurses who help them get answers to health questions, set-up doctor's appointments and deal with insurance matters.
There are hundreds of wellness apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone that can track your exercise activity, sleeping patterns, caloric intake, weight loss and give you general health tips. But when feeling ill and symptoms get serious, one would most likely prefer schedule an appointment with your doctor which could take days or weeks.
Instead of waiting in line personally in a doctor's waiting area, one could now get trusted medical information with just a few finger swipes and taps on your smartphone. A health app backed by the Mayo Clinic called Better is banking on the health care provider's reputation to give trusted health advice to millions of mobile users who would rather get them instantaneously regardless of their location.
The Better app can connect users with personal health assistants and Mayo's nurses who are on standby 24/7 to answer questions, help locate physicians and guide consumers around the complex maze of the insurance system. Unlike existing nurse lines offered by providers who often keep you waiting or returns calls after several minutes, the app's creators claim Mayo's nurses make users wait for just one minute on average.
After installing the app, users create profiles containing information about them and other family members such as gender, age, blood type, level of physical activity, weight, allergies, medications and existing medical conditions. All health data are encrypted and stored online in secure servers whose developers say is compliant with privacy and security laws such as HIPAA.
The app delivers personalized health care information that changes as you update details. For instance, someone in the family with diabetes can expect to receive advice on how to react to a hypoglycemic emergency, administer insulin or managing symptoms of the disease.
Most people are expected to use Mayo's symptom checker, also available on its website, wherein users can click on a common complaint like a headache or cough. The app will then list all possible causes and point you to possible underlying causes, and if needed, to health care professionals for further evaluation. If consumers choose to speak with live nurses, these personal assistants will act the same way and direct consumers to doctors in their area for a more thorough medical evaluation and diagnosis.
The app content is free but consumers will need to pay $49 to use the personal health concierge services. The paid version provides coverage for the whole family and lets you contact assistants via chat, email or phone calls. The website says the premium membership will help users find doctors, schedule appointments, coordinate follow-up care, take care of insurance billing or payments, and prepare wellness and fitness plans.
“We have been challenged by our board and our president and CEO to think about how can we make Mayo Clinic knowledge available to anyone, anywhere, any time. And this is a very nice, novel way for us to reach out in that direction,” Dr. Paul Limburg, medical director of Mayo’s Global Business Solutions group, said in an announcement.
Mayo and Social+Capital put up $5 million each to develop Better with techpreneurs Geoffrey Clapp and Chamath Palihapitiya a year ago. Clapp founded telemedicine startup Health Hero Network and is an adviser to the Rock Health accelerator program. Palihapitiya is a former Facebook executive and also the founder and managing partner of The Social+Capital Partnership, a venture capital fund.