Q: What are the Doctor Says apps?
The Doctor Says Inc. is a doctor-led company that develops engaging and educational mobile health apps that help people know if they are at risk of widely experienced medical conditions such as alcohol abuse, depression and anxiety. The apps guide users through quick, research-based questionnaires to determine if they are at risk, propose treatment options and provide information they may need.
Q: What do the apps do?
The apps leverage clinical experience and medical research to help patients determine if they are at risk from any of these disorders, learn more about them, and how to take action.
The Alcohol Abuse Predictor is an easy-to-use screening tool that helps people determine if they or a loved one are at risk of dependency or harm due to alcohol consumption, and offers them solutions. They can also compare their drinking to other people around the world and get answers to commonly asked questions about alcohol abuse, including: How much alcohol can people drink? What countries consume the most alcohol? And does drinking cause depression?
The Depression Predictor helps people screen for a chemical disorder that affects up to one in eight people. The app poses a series of research-based questions that can help predict if someone is suffering from clinical depression, and how serious their condition might be. Commonly asked questions answered by the Depression Predictor include what causes depression? Does depression run in families? Does counseling work for depression? And, is depression all in my head? Users are directed to articles and resources that help them decide on first steps to get the help they may need.
The Anxiety Predictor is a screening tool, based on standardized physician tests, to help people determine if they suffer from this chemical disorder and, if necessary, get help. Information provided by the app helps users understand where anxiety comes from, how it is treated, and much more.
Q: Why did you create the apps?
As a practicing family doctor and ER physician, I saw a need to help people gain better access to medical information on a platform they are most likely to use – smart phones. I wanted to get information to people who might need it in an easy-to-use and engaging way.
Using an interactive format, the apps provide self-directed learning that is rooted in science. Users are guided through situations and possible behaviors, and then are directed to solutions.
Q: Who are you trying to reach? Women? Men? Younger or older? US/Canada/international?
Everyone. The apps are relevant to every age, sex and nationality.
Q: How do the apps work?
The apps for alcohol abuse, depression and anxiety, guide users through a series of questions to calculate the likelihood and severity of these conditions. With that information, the apps then predict if there is a problem and offer information and treatment options. As you might expect, the questionnaires are only helpful when the answers are complete and honest.
Q: How common are alcohol abuse, depression and anxiety, and do a lot of people who go undiagnosed and untreated?
Depression: Depression affects up to one in eight people. Studies show that, unfortunately, family doctors miss diagnosing depression in about half of all cases. The apps are intended to help users better understand the condition and get on the track to treatment.
Alcohol abuse: The Archives of General Psychiatry reports that, of more than 43,000 U.S. adults interviewed for a 2007 study, nearly 18% had ever abused alcohol and about 12% had ever been alcoholics. According to the University of Pittsburgh, alcohol abuse and dependency is “The most common substance-related disorder in the United States,” with an estimated cost to society of more than $150 billion per year.
Anxiety: According a WebMD article written by the BMJ (British Medical Journal) Group, about 6 in 100 adults get anxiety disorder at some time in their life. Only about half of people with anxiety disorder ever go to a doctor for it.
Q: There are lots of medical apps on the market, and plenty of medical information websites. What makes the Doctor Says’ apps different?
The Doctor Says apps are designed to provide helpful, science-based information to people in a way they can and will access it. The apps are engaging, sometimes even entertaining, but always with a purpose.
Take alcohol-related apps. There are many of them on the market, but the vast majority are drinking games or screening tools used by drivers to predict blood alcohol level. In contrast, our Alcohol Abuse Predictor provides a science-based calculator to predict if there is a problem and suggest solutions.
In addition to scientific research, our apps are designed by a doctor based on his clinical experience in family practice and hospital emergency rooms. The apps answer the kinds of questions doctors get in their office, and that some patients are afraid to ask. Users are directed to solutions, not just bland information without a rudder.
Q: Can people rely on the apps as medical diagnostic tools?
These apps are developed using standardized physician questionnaires developed over decades and used by millions of clinicians. The apps rely on these proven screening tools to help people learn about the conditions they are worried about, whether in themselves or others. The apps make it clear that the questionnaires are just a starting point. They urge users to seek additional assistance from clinicians, social workers and/or clergy and suggest strategies to explore options that can best serve them.
Q: What are your qualifications to create the apps?
As a family and ER physician with more than a decade of clinical experience, I have treated tens of thousands of people for all types of health challenges. I have a special interest in mental and emergent disorders, and have fostered an interest in presenting medical information through mobile platforms.
Q: If people think they might have any of the conditions targeted by your apps, shouldn’t they just go straight to their doctor?
People who believe they may suffer from health conditions should go straight to their doctor. However, in reality many do not. The Doctor Says apps offer choice to people who will often not go to their doctor and are intended to increase the odds they will seek help. They are also useful for people seeking to learn more about a condition someone else may have.
That is why the Doctor Says apps are designed to educate people on the conditions covered, and encourage users to seek professional help to guide their further diagnoses and possible treatment.