Sharecare goes mobile with health advice app, AskMD

By: Aditi Pai | Dec 9, 2013        

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AskMDAtlanta-based online health advice website Sharecare has launched a free app, AskMD, that is meant to help users keep track of their symptoms and put them in contact with doctors and hospitals.

Launched by WebMD Founder Jeff Arnold, Sharecare is an online portal that connects healthcare professionals and patients. It offers a question and answer service for patients to connect with experts and health systems, a portal to connect with other patients dealing with health issues and a 16-week program to help users get fit. Sharecare also has a “RealAge Test” for users to find the true age of their body, which the company says has been taken by more than 30 million people since the test was first launched.

Sharecare’s app, AskMD, offers users a symptom checker that allows them to choose which symptoms they are feeling and then see which potential health issues they might have. The app then walks the user through a ‘consultation’ in which the app will ask the user a series of questions to identify more specifically what the symptom feels like, when it started, and if there are any other symptoms accompanying it. After the ‘consultation’, the user can enter in any information about medications that they are taking. When users have finished entering information, AskMD generates a list of potential problems the user might have ordered by the commonality of the potential problems.

AskMD has voice recognition software integrated in the app and powered by Nuance. All commands from the home screen can be initiated by voice. The app also has a database of hospitals within the app that the user can browse and filter based on insurance. AskMD’s exclusive advertiser, Nashville, Tennessee-based HCA Healthcare is the database’s preferred health system, but the database also pulls from Little Blue Book, a physician directory app that Sharecare acquired last year.

“We’re trying to take advantage of some of the load screen time and so it’s unobtrusive to the user but also still maintains the integrity of the content, and the integrity of the experience that people would expect tied to something as personal as their health,” Dr. Darria Gillespie, EVP of Clinical Strategy, told MobiHealthNews.

When it’s time for a doctor’s appointment, a user can fill out a “For your visit” section of the app that asks the user a series of personal questions that the provider might ask.

“People really aren’t great historians,” Sharecare VP of Product Toni Pashley told MobiHealthNews. “You get, on average, seven minutes with a physician. So the idea is to help make them prepared so that you can make the most of your time when your visiting with your doctor.”

Everything entered into the app is kept in a history that the user can refer back to if they want to try to find correlations in their data. Pashley hopes people use the app for these other features as well instead of just the symptom checker.

“One thing that we learned is that with symptom checkers people tend to use them once and then put it down,” Pashley said. “We are really trying to build a personalized, engaging experience so, you know, really building personal engagement. So that’s one thing we’re going to be looking at when we talk about success.”

AskMD also gives users the opportunity to add different profiles to the app so that they can not only keep track of their own symptoms but also the symptoms of anyone else in their family.

“One thing that was identified early on and as we were doing our research for the product was that there’s a role, the caregiver role,” Pashley said. “We wanted to make sure we made it easy for that kind of user to come in and be able to perform consultations for others.”

Sharecare initially planned to launch earlier this year, but when Apple made the announcement for iOS 7, the company chose to wait and tweak the app to better fit iOS 7’s features and functionality.

“You’ll see for iOS 7, we’re using background 3D imagery so that it shows motion,” Pashley said. “And we’re also switching these images out whenever the users select a different consultation. We also use the clean, simply user interface design that came out with iOS 7. We really liked, with iOS 7, their announcement was around the clean, simple usefulness of the design.”

Next year, Sharecare will launch an Android app but for now Pashley said the company is “really excited to be exclusive with iOS in the beginning”.

In August, HCA Healthcare sponsored Healthbox’s Nashville class.

  • Dominic Orsler

    App Store on my iPhone, search for ‘AskMD’ yields no results…? Am I missing something?

  • Anon
  • Dominic Orsler

    Item not available outside of US. Awesome…

  • Robert

    will this app the available to the android platform?

  • laollis

    Why only for iJunk?

  • Rita

    Is this available for computers for those with no smartphones?

  • Tina

    Hi my question is how is the quickest way to get herion out of my system. I have a legitimate prescription for Percocet that I take and do not need herion when I have it. I have on occasion taken the herion when I found myself short on Percocet as not to go through withdraw. Last month my entire script was stolen but I did not skeet the police or try and get a replacement script as I did not want to draw attention to myself for the Dr. I have been on Percocet for 7 years for chronic pain related to arthritis brought on by chemotherapy. The arthritis is bad enough that it paralized my vocal cords and I needed a trac placed so I could bypass the vocal cords and breath. Therefor the pain is legitimate. My Dr. That originally prescribed the Percocet and allowed me to stay on it retired a year ago and the new Dr. Cut my script and made no secret she does not like to prescribe it. This is why I did not go to her when the script was stolen and I chose to self medicate with herion. The problem is twofold. First off herion is hard to get off I am committed to not using anymore. This is difficult even with the Percocet I still have withdraw symptoms. That alone is not a Hugh issue I kinda feel like it’s the price I have to pay for foolishly doing such a dangerous and addictive drug. The big problem is the Dr. Filled my script for oercocet this week but I gave to see her Monday. I am afraid she may urine test me. I can not reschedule and cannot have herion show up. My last herion use was Friday and I will not be using again. I can not use someone else’s urine as the Percocet needs to be present but the herion needs to be out. I am confident I can kick the herion and go back to my routine 4 perc a day but that is only if my urine is clean and my Dr. Does not find the herion and discontinued script. I am afraid. I am a slim 45 year old woman at 5’4″ I weigh 105lbs. Is there anything I can do over the weekend other than drink a ton of water to flush this our if my system for good? Please respond but not with judgment I know I made an error in judgment and just need advise on how to move forward from here. Thank you in advance for your advise.