When someone recalls a time when doctors made house calls, the best reference you can probably conjure up is an episode of Lassie, right? At-home healthcare by your friendly neighborhood doc might never have been a part of your life, but as the generation who enjoys the comfort of most things right here, right this very sec, we’ve majorly embraced the option to access our doctors and medical needs as easily as we do our email. New app Spruce is the latest to join the virtual office of docs you can download, focusing on a specialty that can diagnose your selfies for symptoms — dermatology.
Spruce is easy to use (not to mention easy on the eyes, more about that in a bit), which is the point. It’s accessible, so you’ll actually, you know, access it if you want to know how to truly treat your acne — or if you even have it. According to the app’s founder, Ray Bradford, 80% of people with acne never actually see a dermatologist. That may be partly due to the crazy wait time (Spruce pegs it at around 30 days) to see a dermatologist. That’s more than your average general practitioner and more than most are probably willing to deal with. “You’re settling with either over the counter products, not getting treated or just living with it,” Ray says. But with Spruce, you have another option, and a hopeful solution.
Open up the app and start your virtual visit. You begin by taking photos of your face and any problem areas following the on-screen guide that shows you exactly how to take this new kinda selfie. From there, you answer questions about you and your medical history; Spruce worked with real dermatologists to make sure the app’s questionnaire collects all the important info a doctor would in an in-person visit.
Set up your pharmacy and tell the doctor anything else you think it’s important they know (this is your health, so sometimes a multiple choice Q+A doesn’t cut it, and Spruce gets that) and your “visit” is complete. A board-certified doctor will review your info and get back to you within 24 hours and the whole thing only cost you a few minutes and $40. If you have an HSA or FSA card, you’ll be able to use that, too.
Above is a look at what the Spruce experience looks like for the doctors. When they get back to you, it will be with more than just a diagnosis and a prescription. They’ll provide you with necessary info about your condition, all the facts and FAQs already A-ed about your treatment plan + helpful articles that dispel common acne myths or help point you in the right direction of what products to use. The other upside to Spruce vs. visiting your derm the old-fashioned way, is that it’s much easier to have a personalized, one-on-one experience with your doctor through the app. After receiving your diagnosis, you can message your derm with any questions or concerns. This all sounds way better than trying to self diagnose your skin situation with an uninformed Google search and frantic WebMD-ing, doesn’t it?
Besides being so handy, the app itself is a breezy, beautiful experience for the user. The screens are bathed in oceanic aquas that makes this prettier than just about any doctor’s office you’ve ever had to hang out in. Spruce’s designer Meg Fulton took me through an actual demo and it was really as simple as it sounds. As Ray puts it: “We want to make [going to the doctor] so easy to do from your phone that it’s a straightforward decision at a straight forward price.” Done and done.
Spruce is currently available to download for iOS devices for patients 18 and older in CA, NY, FL and PA. Right now, there are no plans (at least that they’ll readily reveal) for what Spruce 2.0 will offer, but a #freeidea I gave them was to plaster some posters with discount codes on the L train and offer bed bug bite consultations for NYC residents. NYers, you feel me.
Have you ever tried a “doctor in your pocket” app or online experience? Would you visit all of your doctors virtually if you could? Specifically, would you use Spruce to treat your acne? Share your thoughts below!