Sharecare Helps to Engage and Empower Consumers with Mobile Health App-AskMD

By Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA

Woman using smartphone for AskMD post on Healthin30

From digital to doctor with a click on your iPhone or iPod touch

Self-diagnosing is not a good idea, but arming yourself with accurate, credible and trustworthy information is a great idea.

It’s such an exciting time in health care today. Digital technology helps to empower and engage consumers to take charge of their health, and it fosters consumers to be active participants in their healthcare.

One way to become empowered is to research health information so you can arm yourself with necessary information you need. However, due to the massive amount of information flooding the web, searching for health information online can be confusing and overwhelming. Unfortunately, not all information is accurate; there is a plethora of inaccurate and misleading health information out there. If you’re like most of us, you have searched for health information online.

According to Pew Internet and American Life Project 72% of internet users say they have looked online for health information and 77% of online health seekers say they began their last session at a search engine such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. (Eight in ten online health inquiries start at a search engine.) Additionally, 85% of U.S. adults use the internet and 56% of U.S. adults own a smartphone.

A new mobile health app developed by Sharecare is more than a symptom checker.

AskMD Image Sharecare for Post Healthin30

If you’re an iPhone user, you can now let AskMD, an iOS free app, developed by Sharecare, give you the tools you need to easily obtain information about a health condition, and so much more.

Sharecare, a trusted source of health information, has been answering your health questions since its launch in October 2010. Founded by the brilliant Jeff Arnold (founder of WebMD) and Dr. Mehmet Oz, Vice-Chair and Professor of Surgery at Columbia University, and Emmy-winning talk show host, Sharecare is a health and wellness social engagement platform connecting consumers with health information from national experts, interactive tools and local healthcare providers. [Full Disclosure: I’m a member of the Advisory Board and Health Educator at Sharecare.]

There are many health, medical and fitness apps flooding the market. According to Research2Guidance (March 2013), “currently there are 97,000 mHealth applications in major app stores…” How do consumers sort through the maze of apps to know which are reliable? One way is to make sure the app developers are a reputable source.

Sharecare is trusted name in health and it’s a highly regarded resource. Take a look here at Sharecare’s advisory board. Also, a few of the many partners include the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, Harvard Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Hopkins Medicine, American Heart Association, Mount Sinai Health Systems and AARP.

A Symptom Checker Plus So Much More

With AskMD, an app developed by a reputable source, gives you personalized information based on the data you enter. Not only is it a symptom checker, it’s a health management tool. It stores your health information, including medications, insurance information, and contact details for all your doctors and specialists.

Other symptom checkers may provide you with only general information about a health condition, but AskMD takes your experience further. It takes you beyond your digital encounter; it takes you through to the real-life doctor visit and arms you with valuable information to help you communicate clearly and succinctly with your doctor.

Initiated with voice activation, AskMD organizes information about your symptoms. You simply use your voice to initiate a series of questions relevant to your issues, including medications. The app uses Pattern Recognition Technology and matches your answers to a clinical platform and provides you with results specific to you.

Based on your medical needs, you will be directed to find a doctor or specialist based on a robust physician directory, The Little Blue Book, which Sharecare acquired in 2012. You will be given a list or area map filtered by insurance, specialty and distance. Directly from the app you can call to make an appointment. The user experience doesn’t end here.

Doctor/Patient Relationship

Once you complete your “consultation” you will be given a summary of your results with details which you can access, print or share from the app. This information will allow you to ask the right questions during your doctor’s visit. Not only does the app keep track of your health including height, weight, cholesterol, blood pressure and any known conditions; you can create multiple health profiles. That’s great news especially if you care for other members in your family.

Communication – Patient Engagement

Engaged, empowered and proactive consumers; that’s what health care is about. Having access to the right information at the right time can help empower you to communicate with your doctor and other health care providers. Communication and shared decision-making is a must in health care today.

Remember, prevention begins with you. Be proactive and in charge of your health.

Your turn
We would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below and if you’ve downloaded the AskMD app, we would love to know what you think. Share your experience with us. Also, you’re welcome to share your comments on the Healthin30 Facebook page as well.

As always, thank you for your very valuable time and thoughtful comments.

Life-Threatening Emergencies

Always call 9-1-1 if you experience a medical emergency such as chest pain or severe bleeding, severe shortness of breath, facial drooping or weakness in an arm or leg, suicidal or homicidal feelings, severe burns etc.

To find out when to call 9-1-1 and to see  a list of other life-threatening symptoms, please go to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).

AskMD for iPhone® is available exclusively on the App Store. Download it now for FREE and let it take you right to your appointment.

AskMD iTunes


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 TEDMED Great Challenges-Medical Communication-Barbara Ficarra

Image courtesy of Ambro/

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