In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

April 29, 2014

Everything’s better with ‘Better’



It's been more than a week now since our friends in Mayo Clinic Global Business Solutions and Silicon Valley-based The Social+Capital Partnership launched a new personal health assistant service called "Better." Better is more than just an app, although the Better app is a centerpiece of the service. Better co-founder Geoff Clapp describes Better as the best way for you to get health information and guidance "wherever you are, directly on your mobile device."

Since "medical expertise from Mayo Clinic" is also a centerpiece of the Better service, we thought we'd take a look around the Internets to see how it’s being received. And we think a story from TechCrunch's Leena Rao pretty much tells us everything we need to know.

Rao begins her write-up by giving a quick overview of how Better came about before diving into the good stuff -- how the app and personal health assistant service work. First, the app. You start by providing "information about yourself, like gender, blood type, weight and preferred diet," Rao writes. Next, "You’ll also be asked to include details like blood pressure, allergies, and existing medical conditions." The app can help you pull in your medical information from "existing or past doctors" as well, and stores all of this information in a safe and secure environment. (The Star Tribune reports that "no personal data are saved on a user’s mobile device" but instead "remains encrypted on the 'Better' servers.")

Then the app uses that information to pull in personalized health content from Mayo Clinic. "So if your father has diabetes, you’ll be delivered information around the disease," Rao writes. Or, "If you have a 2-year-old with chronic ear infections, you’ll receive content around that topic."

"Where 'Better' really differentiates itself," Rao says, is by giving users access to a live personal health assistant, who can "provide information or direct any necessary next steps, including making an appointment with someone’s existing physician or connecting with a Mayo Clinic nurse for 24/7 answers to questions." Those personal health assistants, she says, can also "serve as a guide on many other health-related issues, from finding a specialist or a doctor, creating a family health action plan, or even sorting out how to get the most out of one’s health insurance."

The Better app itself is free and will give users access to personalized health information from Mayo Clinic. To get a personal health assistant, users will need to pay a monthly subscription fee. "But this covers the entire family," Rao writes, "and provides unlimited contact, including through messaging, email and phone." And while the paid version of the service and app may not be for everyone, Rao says when it comes to her own health care needs, she considers it money well spent. "Despite my own connections to the health care world, I’ll be signing up for an account, because I know that my health care experience will only become better with more advocates on my side," she says.

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Tags: Better, GBS, Global Business Solutions, Innovation, Mayo Clinic Ventures, technology

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