Doc ratings now available on mHealth app

By Eric Wicklund
11:28 AM

Vitals, the New York-based developer of online physician information and ratings resources, is looking to make that experience less stressful and more detailed with the launch of its first mobile app.

An extension of the Vitals website  -  which records upwards of 10 million hits each month  -  the app allows people to use their mobile devices to research local providers based on a number of parameters and patient reviews, create lists of favorite doctors, and store personal information like phone numbers and insurance information.

"Vitals is an invaluable resource for patients looking to find the right doctor and obtain the best in quality medical care for both themselves and their families," said Mitch Rothschild, the company's CEO, in a July 18 press release. "The Vitals app makes it easier than ever to instantly find top doctors and specialists anywhere in the U.S., giving patients the information they need to make informed decisions about their health no matter where they are."

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Rothschild said roughly 20 percent of the company's current web traffic comes through mobile devices, and that number is expected to rise as more and more people become comfortable with smartphones, notebooks and laptops.

"We have to be there to serve our users in as many different forms as they want to use," he said.

Launched in 2008, Vitals is designed to appeal to parents, students, travelers and professionals  -  anyone looking for medical help when away from home. Rothschild said the concept capitalizes on the intelligent shopping process now employed by consumers in many different arenas, as well as the push for transparency in healthcare. By aggregating information on physicians that includes public information and patient-provided reviews, Vitals looks to offer a resource for people who don't have access to their regular doctor and need to know what's available and where.

Rothschild said the mobile app isn't as feature-rich as the company's website, but it does give users what they want when they're away from home.

"The smaller screen means that we have to be more judicious about our information," he said. "We are an information-rich site, and with mobile, we obviously have to deal with the particular uses of that medium. ... In the end, you can really get a sense of who the good doctor is."

Rothschild said the Supreme Court's recent decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act "is really kind of turbo-charging our growth" because it promises to add millions of people to the nation's health insurance rolls, and all of them will want to know which local physicians are on which health plans.

Conversely, he said, physicians might want to be aware of the information on them that's available to the public.

[See also: mHealth apps forecast to increase threefold by 2012.]

"We have a whole portal to the physicians where they can append information or correct information," he pointed out, adding that any information supplied by the physician is labeled as such. "Being proactive certainly does help."