This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Have you ever had a question you wanted to ask a doctor but couldn’t find one to ask? Have you ever wanted a second opinion but decided it would take too long or cost too much?
Alice Crisci did. Unlike the rest of us who’d had such problems, she decided to do something about it. She founded Ovum Medical to provide MedAnswers, an iPhone app that gives patients direct access to doctors and other experts to answer questions. Crisci plans to launch Android and web versions of the service before the end of 2017.
She traces the history of the company to her own scare with cancer. “I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was only 31 years old.” Three weeks after her cancer diagnosis she launched a nonprofit called Fertile Action.
“When I was diagnosed with cancer I didn’t see a second opinion oncologist until I was already going through treatment. He didn’t even agree with the treatment plan that I was going through. So I connected the two oncologists in a conference call so I could hear both of their approaches.”
Last year, she came up with the idea for MedAnswers and began working to bring it to market. The app is already available for free in the App Store.
The app allows multiple experts, typically medical doctors, to offer answers and then to vote them up or down so users can see a consensus forming around the best answer.
Today, the company is conducting two simultaneous securities offerings to raise money, including a crowdfunding campaign via Start Engine. There, she set a goal of just $10,000 but has raised over $107,000.
For now, the app only provides answers in the fertility space but the plan is to broaden the reach of the experts organically until it covers the universe of health care questions. “We called it MedAnswers and not infertility answers or oncology answers because we want to help people in their moment of health care crisis,” Crisci says.
Jenifer Gausman, a life-long friend and committed investor in the company, says, “MedAnswers solves the information overload by less reliable sources by connecting patients to experts that answer their questions.”
Christina Stramacchia got to know Crisci through a fertility group on Facebook. She is using the app and says, “I have posted several questions – response time is excellent, and the feedback is professional and informative. Many times the responses are aligned with my RE [reproductive endocrinologist] and nurse opinions. In some cases, when I present the information I have gathered on MedAnswers, they are able to elaborate on the explanation I was given on MedAnswers.”
Crisci explains that she has found experts in seven fields related to infertility who have signed up to provide answers on the app. The fields include reproductive endocrinologists, embryologists, geneticists, genetic counselors, psychologists, urologists and reproductive attorneys. [Insert your own joke about multiplying lawyers here.]
These are early days for the young social enterprise. The app launched in the App Store only in June. Crisci acknowledges that “we’re still newbies.”
Gausman says, “If Alice has her way, she will ensure every patient seeking fertility answers will have that access. She is unstoppable.”
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