The dominant trend in primary care is toward large group practices where more and more patient encounters are with NPs, PAs and other professionals rather than MDs. Co-pays are rising, and so-called patient-centered medical homes are leveraging electronic health records in the pursuit of “population health.”
Against this background, First Opinion, an iOS app, is going more or less in the opposite direction. The company allows users one free text-based consultation a month. Additional consults cost as little as $2, while unlimited sessions are $25 per month (the same as my primary care co-pay). What’s more, once a user is assigned to a physician they stay with that doctor –they don’t get switched every time they connect.
I tested out the service and think it has some potential. It’s a take on the concept of “virtual medical tourism” that I proposed years ago. My physician is in India –technology lets us bridge the long distance.
In this podcast interview, I discuss the company in depth with Dr. Vikram Bakhru, First Opinion’s Chief Operating Officer.