Think You Have the Flu? Text a Doctor — or Even Get a House Call

With the FirstLine app, patients can consult with a doctor by text, phone or even video chat.
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With the FirstLine app, patients can consult with a doctor by text, phone or even video chat.
Photo courtesy of FirstLine

Photo courtesy of FirstLine

You have a temperature of 101 degrees, your throat is sore and your entire body aches. You probably have the flu, but you’re not sure. The last thing you want to do is get out of your cozy house and sit in an emergency room for three hours to have a doctor confirm the diagnosis.

An iPhone-based app called FirstLine could help. With the app, patients can consult with a doctor by text, phone or even video chat. If you live in the San Francisco area, you could even use the FirstLine app to have a doctor come to your home.

According to the company, this service is perfect for non-emergency health issues such as the flu, the common cold and constipation. California residents can even have some prescriptions filled via the app, which was launched in beta late last year.

Bryan O’Connell, the CEO of FirstLine, told MobiHealthNews that his ultimate goal is to do away with waiting rooms; he believes that the app could even replace the need for a primary care doctor for many patients.

For a $25 initiation fee and $15 a month, patients get access to a doctor by phone, text message and video chat. In-person doctor visits are $199 and the wait time is about an hour; according to the company’s website, some insurance plans will reimburse patients for this cost.

O’Connell told MobiHealthNews that he wants to be able to provide FirstLine’s virtual services to 50 percent of the country by the end of 2015. He says the company plans to expand its house call option to Boston and other major cities more slowly.