The @MayoClinic's new doctor-in-an-iPhone: by @NealUnger @FastCompany

The Mayo Clinic's New Doctor-In-An-iPhone

For $49.95 a month, the Mayo Clinic can turn your phone into a personal health concierge.

For approximately $50 a month, the Mayo Clinic is offering unlimited access to the famed hospital's nurses through a smartphone app. The Mayo Clinic partnered with Better, a California-based health technology startup, to launch the new subscription-based app. The app is not covered by insurance but offers real-time, 24/7 health care assistance. Think of it as a mobile WebMD—on steroids.

Along with real-time video chats with Mayo Clinic nurses, the new service also includes personally-tailored health information culled from Mayo Clinic databases, a "symptom checker" that incorporate's individual user's health histories, and access to a personal medical concierge who can provide more information or schedule patients' doctor appointments. The app costs $49.95 a month per household and is compliant with federal health privacy regulations.

"Our culture of learning, innovation, and the desire to find answers has allowed Mayo to remain at the forefront of health and wellness, and we want to extend this expertise to people anywhere," said Paul Limburg of Mayo Clinic Global Business Solutions in a press release. "People consistently tell us they want more convenient access to Mayo Clinic knowledge. We collaborated with and invested in Better to create a powerful way for people to connect with Mayo Clinic in their homes and communities, wherever they are."

Concierge medicine could also be a potential new revenue stream for the Mayo Clinic. Fast Company has previously covered New York-based medical concierge service Sherpaa and Oscar, a new health insurer which tailors its products for web and mobile use. Because apps and subscription services are largely outside of the scope of FDA regulations, they are a potential moneymaker for health-minded businesses and entrepreneurs, as the cost of releasing a health-related personal concierge or smartphone application is far less than a comparable standalone product, which requires far greater fees for the FDA process.

Better App, Available on iOS

Better founder Geoffrey Clapp was previously an executive at telemedicine pioneer Health Hero Network; his new company was launched with $5 million from venture capital fund The Social + Capital Partnership and the Mayo Clinic itself. The Mayo Clinic's Global Business Solutions wing has been actively building partnerships with everything from benefits providers to a variety of software developers.

The Mayo Clinic is entering a crowded market of smartphone-based concierge medicine firms. Beyond Sherpaa, there's also Grand Rounds, Stat Doctors, Doctor on Demand, and even a free app for Canadians, Medeo, which offers subsidized concierge medicine services via smartphones for residents of British Columbia.

For Better, the Mayo Clinic, and other concierge medicine providers, the real (and unanswered) question is just how much of a market for their services really exists via smartphone apps.

[Image: Flickr user Jessica Keating Photography]

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  • Jeanelle Jae Coleman

    Why is something that gives you access to nurse described as "Doctor in an iPhone"?

  • Virginia M DeYoung

    I think this is a wonderful idea since I have been contemplating traveling to the MayoClinic for some desperately needed medical advice. I just hope that that the app would not get abused and subsequently shut down. The good news is that it is has a cost that most who have no need for it would not pay for it. Thank you for bringing this information to our attention Neal. Virginia - Chicago, Illnois

  • Dorothy Ann Kingen Booth

    Thank you, thank you. I love the idea and think it is really time! Dorothy A. Booth RN CCM CCP AATMC

  • Keith Wurster

    Could visit those without computer, skills and cpu to skype and assess w/docs. Cheaper for patients and more pp seen for lower cost and I and docs still make more $ by volume with quality not lacking and waiting in their ow homes or a clinic set-up or both. Home health Dr. visit for 50 plus 25 per nurse visit per 20 min personal visit. Could really work. Sorry for the rant but I've heard more simple versions. Also cuts out how do I get to Dr visit and if further assessment can stat to Hospital with video record of visit digitally.

  • Keith Wurster

    This would be great if we could submit our current health records and scripts to be e-sent to local pharmacies instead of current monthly visit I have to pain Dr who says how ya doin'? Do we need to talk about anything? Rare is a drug screen and it would save me thousands to skype w/ a doc and urinate in a present opened on screen cup and show results proving I take my meds and no illicits while showing my current meds that the med assistant currently counts and touches! Also since I get 3-5 sinus infections a year maybe have an online consult referral or during infection could describe and show throat and use oto/nasal scope to show sinuses redness clpgs etc and get cipro or augmentin prescribed 10=14 days. They already send x-rays to India to be read stat and then double bill. I would love to see this expand. We always have the ER for further assessment if needed and my last weekend URI went to the ER and it only cost $56 Think about it please. I am a nurse and would travel scale.

  • not only so much FUN if many people could have this app on their mobile phone but also giving the most resourceful healthcare in this modern days... keep it up BETTER!