Akira for iOS has launched today in Ontario, bringing on-demand secure chat or video calling with Canadian doctors, right from your iPhone. A closed beta test this spring saw 2,000 people sign up for the app using over 750 doctor consultations.
When users login to the app, they can start a secure text chat with a board-certified doctor, or video as well if necessary. Doctors will be available during weekdays from 9am to 5pm, and Saturdays from 10am to 6pm. Text messages usually get a doctor response time of two minutes, according to the startup, which has $500,000 in seed funding from investors including the likes of Shopify founder Tobias Lütke.
Doctors can diagnose common health problems, plus also write prescriptions and have them sent to a pharmacy of choice, plus also refer patients to specialists, other health professionals and order tests. Akira has partners to allow for same-day delivery of prescription medication, while the app also includes information on frequency and dosage of medication.
Dustin Walper, co-founder, Akira, said in a statement “At Akira, we’re focused on bringing high-quality health care to people everywhere, and we’re leveraging technology to do it. We’re starting with the Akira app, but our ultimate goal is to build the world’s smartest artificial medical assistant.”
What’s the cost of Akira? It’s based on a monthly subscription of $9.99 per month, which includes unlimited access to doctors and nurses anytime, with the option to cancel at any time. The startup says the service can be included as a health benefit to employees, with companies such as 500px and Pivotal Labs already doing so.
As for security, Akira says it follows the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA), with all calls and data encrypted and stored in Canada, while the app includes Touch ID to protect the app from unauthorized use and viewing of health records.
As for expansion outside of Ontario, Akira says they will be supporting other provinces “soon”. If you live far away from a clinic or doctor’s office, Akira sounds like a good idea to get instant access to a doctor and save traveling and wait times in the office.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen medical advice being offered on the iPhone. Back in 2013, Medeo offered video calls for iPhone users in B.C., free as covered by their Medical Services Plan (MSP).
If you’ve used Akira, or plan to give it try, share your experience in the comments below.