The response to MediBabble has been strong. Since it was launched in February 2011, more than 15,000 clinicians have downloaded it. MediBabble was also voted the No. 3 new app of 2011 for internists and residents by the influential physician-review Web site iMedicalApps.com, which called it a "most superior" translation device.
Blau says NiteFloat wants to expand the breadth of the questions, the languages offered, and the content. "Right now it is focused on broad emergency and primary care complaints. But we have had a lot of specialists request additional content in areas such as OB/GYN and anesthesia," Blau says. Plans are also under way to launch an "internationalization feature" that will allow, for example, Russian speaking physicians to communicate with Spanish speaking patients.
While it's not charging a fee for MediBabble, NiteFloat asks users to donate money. "We have no plans to charge for the service. We continue to pay for MediBabble's development ourselves, but we're looking for foundation support," Cohn says. "We are technically not a non-profit, but we are also technically not profitable."
The growth of medical apps is exploding, with thousands of offerings for medical professionals and patients. For healthcare applications to be effective, Cohn says, there will always be a need for the physician's perspective. "You can build an app for what you know best," he says. "The more you work in the system as a physician, the more you can identify true need. The more time I spend with patients, the more I come to appreciate their struggles and what benefits them. Understanding a patient's needs is really critical in developing an app that helps people."