Anyone who’s ever Googled a vague string of medical symptoms knows the hazard
(and subsequent panic) of relying too heavily on the Web for curative guidance. Still, online and mobile platforms show promise in terms of streamlining the healthcare systems of the future
. The newest of these apps connect potential patients to actual doctors and sanctioned info for instant access to trusted medical opinions.
Individuals with everyday health and medical queries can turn to Health Tap
, a mobile app that crowdsources
answers from actual doctors. Users simply type in their question in order to pull up an archive of related responses, contributed by a community of 14,000 licensed U.S. doctors. Doctors can approve one another’s responses to lend additional validity to certain answers. Never-before-asked questions are cast out to participating specialists, and the site notifies users when the response to their query has been submitted. For those who desire a second opinion, a virtual one-on-one consultation with a doctor-of-choice can be procured for a one-time, $10 fee.
Web app SymCAT
provides a data-based approach to online symptom-searching. The app was designed by two Johns Hopkins medical students in an effort to prevent both unnecessary trips to the emergency room and the type of self-diagnosing that inevitably follows a Google-based symptom search. SymCAT asks sufferers of mild maladies to categorize their symptoms and state the duration of their discomfort. Responses are then pulled from accredited Center for Disease Control data. Though its creators stress that SymCAT is not meant to replace a doctor visit for those experiencing serious illness, the app should nonetheless help users avoid innumerable nights of WebMD-induced paranoia
Those in need of immediate medical consultation after-hours or—horror of horrors—over the weekend no longer need to contemplate a time-consuming trip to the emergency room, thanks to Ringadoc
. This San Francisco-based startup connects patients to doctors through a toll-free hotline, for live, real-time medical assistance. Users can either pay a flat rate of $39.99 per call, or a slightly discounted rate when combined with a yearly membership fee, to speak with a licensed doctor at any time, day or night, about their medical issue or question. The app is currently in beta and only functioning in California, but should expand to 20 more states in 2013.