This App Compares Prescriptions for You with Advice From Real Doctors

There's now a Yelp for medicine, comparing M.D.'s opinions on medication for your condition

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When you need a reliably delicious restaurant, you turn to Yelp. When you want to know more about, well, any product, you go on Amazon. We've become a nation relying on reviews to help us make informed decisions, and now you can add medications to your crowd-sourcing list. RateRX, which launched today, is a digital service that compares medications for ailments, illnesses and diseases based entirely on the medical opinion of thousands of doctors.

The app and website was started by HealthTap, an app that connects you with a network of physicians to answer your health questions without making you schedule an in-person visit. "One of the most common questions we would get was around medications. If your doctor writes you a prescription, you don't have a good way to evaluate for yourself whether this is the best treatment for your symptoms or condition compared to everything else out there," explains HealthTap founder and CEO Ron Gutman. (What about other self-evaluations? Is an Online Diagnosis from WebMD, Mayo Clinic, or Other Sites Safe?)

His team took the drugs people were asking the most questions about, put them in front of doctors (2.7 billion, to be exact), and asked them to rate the drug for specific symptoms on a scale of 1 to 5. The information presented on RateRX is the average score of all these medically-certified, trusted health professionals. (Sometimes you should second-guess your M.D.: 3 Doctor's Orders You Should Question.)

The vast majority of medications in the database are over-the-counter medications (including ibuprofen, aspirin, antibiotics, allergy treatments, steroids, and seizure medicines), but it also includes often-asked-about alternative remedies, like fish oil for depression. "We're focused on the treatments most important for and most commonly used by people in real life, and having medical professionals provide insight on this," Gutman adds. In fact, there are no ads or incentives on the app, reinforcing the idea that this information is truly here just to help you make better decisions.

"We need to be more informed consumers, especially about our own health," Gutman says. He hopes his app empowers people to research potential medications before their appointment, or look into alternative prescriptions after talking with a doc. This idea is smart, considering 88 percent of Americans already turn to the web, apps, and other sources to get more information about a health problem before visiting a professional, according to a new survey from SleepRate, a company that partners with Stanford University to address sleep issues. (Find out when else you should take your health into your own hands with 5 DIY Health Checks that Could Save Your Life.)

The best scenario of all? Pull up the app while sitting right there with their M.D. "If you bring your doctor the opinion of the doctor's community, they will likely be more open to a conversation about whether that treatment is or isn't right for you," he adds.

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