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Continued: Mayo Clinic builds 'Better' app to expand its name with consumers

  • Article by: DAN BROWNING , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 16, 2014 - 10:55 PM

Clapp described Better as a combination of people and technology that provides users with a health care safety net built on Mayo’s knowledge. Because of state laws, Mayo can’t advise users in a prescriptive way like it might in a clinical setting, he said. But it can suggest what type of care is appropriate, and the Better personal health assistant will coordinate the care with the user’s local providers.

Beta users have been testing the service for about seven months. “We’ve put hundreds of people through and have a number of success stories,” Clapp said.

Zane Wagener, 25, of San Francisco, said he uses Better primarily to manage his health insurance.

“Unlike most people, my job, as a child care provider, keeps me away from my computer and phone for pretty much all business hours. So I essentially have to take time off work to make phone calls to insurance companies,” he wrote in an e-mail.

“After sending a message through the app to my personal health assistant, she was able to correct an error in my insurance, effectively saving me hundreds of dollars, all without me having to once deal with my insurance company,” he said.

Wagener said Better also is useful when you’re sick. “Instead of having to get myself to the doctor last time I was sick, I was able to talk to Lauren [the personal health assistant] through my phone, all without having to get off my couch, which was terrific,” he wrote.

Clapp said he expects Better to evolve along with other health-tech products.

“What you won’t see us do is build medical devices. But what you’ll see us do is integrate with medical devices. So blood glucose meters, blood pressure cuffs, even EKGs and things like that” will eventually be able to plug in their data, he said.

No personal data are saved on a user’s mobile device. It’s encrypted for security reasons during transmission and remains encrypted on the Better servers. The company says it won’t sell the users’ data.

Clapp said the company understands that the monthly subscription fee for its premium service may be too expensive for some people and is considering various solutions.

“Mayo has that great saying of, CEOs and farmers sit side by side in the waiting room. We share that philosophy, without an actual waiting room,” he said.

State laws related to health care costs and reimbursement complicate things, he said, but Better is seeking an equitable solution.

 

Dan Browning • 612-673-4493

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