Faster than a MinuteClinic: New app provides diagnosis and prescriptions using SMS

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - May/June 2010

Zipnosis bypasses doctor’s visit, health insurance hassles for common ailments

A new app gives patients access to clinicians who can diagnose their common health problems and prescribe them medicine—without having to interact in person or even over the phone. The service, called Zipnosis (Minneapolis, MN), is not only faster than a CVS Caremark MinuteClinic, it’s backed by MinuteClinic cofounder Rick Kreiger, who serves as the startup’s CEO.

Zipnosis works like this: A patient answers a series of questions. The answers are forwarded to a Zipnosis clinician, “using the latest security measures and encryption,” according to the company. The clinician then reviews the symptoms and gets back to the patient with a treatment plan, which could include an over-the-counter medicine, a prescription to a patient’s preferred pharmacy (with confirmation texted back to the patient) or advice to schedule an appointment with a doctor. Turnaround time is about an hour, the company says, and the cost is $25 per diagnosis (prescription cost not included).

Zipnosis can diagnose the common cold, sinus infections, strep throat, bladder infections and other ailments.

Currently, the service is offered in Minnesota—independently through Zipnosis and separately for patients of Minneapolis/St. Paul’s Park Nicollet Health Services, which is providing the clinicians to diagnose its Zipnosis patients.

Critics say they wouldn’t recommend the service for fear of misdiagnosis, but Zipnosis founders see it as a way to improve clinical efficiency and patient access to health care.

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