Vitals iPhone App Offers Doctor Ratings, Health Insurance Data

Vitals, a Web resource on finding health care, has unveiled an iPhone application that allows consumers to locate doctors and rate their service.

Vitals, a resource that allows people to look up health care providers, has launched an iPhone application that allows patients to search for doctors while on the move.

Announced July 18, the app enables patients to rate doctors in top 10 lists, save the physician's contact info and store images of multiple health insurance cards.

Vitals refers to its search service as a "360-degree view," in which consumers get information on a doctor's experience, seek recommendations from other physicians and submit their own consumer reviews. The app weighs patient reviews most heavily in its listings, according to the company.

"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," Mitch Rothschild, CEO of Vitals, said in a statement.

Vitals allows people to search for doctors that specialize in treating their symptoms and conditions and that honor their insurance plans. Other search criteria include doctors' educational background, board certification and gender.

Users can store preferred doctor profiles in the My Favorites section. The app links to Google Maps for directions to a doctor's office. Patients can save doctors' info in their iPhone contact list.

The Vitals site allows patients to search by a doctor's name and specialty.

Unlike the Web version, the app allows users to share their search results and doctor ratings. The Web version also doesn't offer the GPS functionality of the iPhone app, the company noted. In the Web version, users need to enter a location manually.

Although the Vitals app is designed for the iPhone, it also works on the iPad, the company reported.

Vitals is one of a number of mobile tools that allow patients to find health care providers.

One such app, Aetna's iTriage, allows consumers to look up doctors using GPS as well as research symptoms and schedule appointments. Users can search for providers by various categories, such as emergency departments, urgent care, retail clinics, physicians, pharmacies and additional outpatient clinics.

Aetna also launched a native version of iTriage for the iPad June 19.

Another service, ZocDoc, allows patients to find doctors in an iOS, Android or BlackBerry app and book appointments online.

Patients can search by city, specialty or insurance type. In a May 3 survey by Harris Interactive commissioned by ZocDoc, 79 percent said they pick a doctor or dentist primarily based on whether or not they accept their insurance.

In ZocDoc, patients can specify doctor name, practice name, procedure, language, location and hospital. Like Vitals, ZocDoc also offers patient reviews, though 64 percent of Harris' respondents didn't believe they can adequately evaluate whether a doctor or dentist met their needs.

Of the 2,211 adults Harris interviewed between April 19 and April 23, 79 percent said that they have an easier time evaluating new gadgets than a new doctor or dentist. Meanwhile, 76 percent find it easier to choose a hotel than a doctor.

Forty percent of patients that schedule visits to the doctor through ZocDoc get confirmed appointments within 24 hours and 60 percent within three days, according to the company.