Mobile app helps consumers locate and research physicians

A new app from physician information resource Vitals allows consumers to use their mobile devices to research local providers based on a number of parameters and patient reviews. Users can also create lists of favorite doctors, and store personal information such as phone numbers and insurance information.

New York-based Vitals said the app is an extension of the company's website, which records upwards of 10 million hits each month.

Mitch Rothschild, the company's CEO, said in a 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."

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 commented.

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 they 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.

"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."

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