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The app that lets you text a doctor anytime, anywhere

A new mobile health service lets you text a doctor for answers on the go.

The new mobile app, First Opinion, aims to give patients quick answers to their most pressing medical questions.

Why go to your phone when you’ve got a question? Well, it takes about nine minutes to get an answer from the service, it says; it can take eons to hear back from your typical primary care provider.

First Opinion

What about privacy, you may ask? The sign-up process asks only for your first name and email address. Then you’re paired with a doctor. And, for all you moms out there that have questions about your child’s health, rest assured: All the doctors are moms.

C.E.O. McKay Thomas came up with the idea for First Opinion after his wife got pregnant in a foreign country and had issues communicating with her physician thousands of miles away. The service has raised about $2.6 million from investors.

First Opinion

How reliable are the texts for medical answers?

The doctors on the service are screened by the company, and peers can review them so you can look at the ratings. The app launched last year and has completed 30,000 consultations over the past six months. The app focuses mostly on preventive care — so don’t go text-happy in a crisis.

“We introduce the doctor through the app by showing members the most important information about the doctor including how long they’ve been practicing, what type of doctor they are, how many consults they’ve completed and what their star rating is, and how many kids they have,” Thomas said.

There is a bit of patient bias as far as it relates to the app: Right now, it’s only available on Apple devices.

Mobile health in the news

In related news, here are a few more recent headlines on mobile health:

  • The leading mobile health service in the nation, Text4baby, was found to have significant benefits for expectant mothers, according to a study out of the George Washington University and the Madigan Army Medical Center.
  • Want to know how iPhone and Android users measure up when they’re using mobile devices for health and fitness information? A study from Opera Mediaworks found that iPhone users focus on health and medical, while Android users prefer fitness content. The data was based on 500 million monthly ad impressions from over 400 mobile sites and apps on the Opera Mediaworks platform. They found that 62 percent of iPhone users were interested in health, while 58 percent were interested in fitness. Of Android users, 39 percent consume more fitness content as compared to 30 percent taking in health content.
  • A Manhattan Research study of 3,000 physicians found that more than 33 percent endorse mobile health apps to help patients improve diet and lifestyle. That figure is up 13 percent from two years ago.

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