New app brings 24/7 healthcare advice to Latino communities

ConsejoSano mobile app connects documented and undocumented Latinos to healthcare providers who speak Spanish.

Michael Chavez/SEIU/AP
People wait to enter an Affordable Care Act enrollment event sponsored by SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West and Community Coalition, in Los Angeles on Nov. 15, 2014.

Understanding medical jargon after visiting the doctor is oftentimes no easy task. Add a language barrier, and it becomes even more difficult. That’s where ConsejoSano is looking to bridge the gap with a new app.

The California-based medical service provider has created a mobile application that allows Spanish-speaking residents of the United States, both documented and undocumented, to have 24-hour access to physicians that assist with non-life-threatening issues.

“We wanted to make sure our services were high quality, affordable, convenient, and confidential,” says Abner Mason, chief executive officer and founder of ConsejoSano, in a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington on Tuesday.

Mr. Mason added that monthly subscribers would pay $9.99 for an individual and $14.99 for a family of up to five members. “This is as close to universal healthcare that you can get with the help of technology,” he says.

Here’s how it works. Once the application is downloaded, subscribers are able to create a profile with a physician. The physician can then help the virtual patient with either a proper diagnosis or a referral for further review. All physicians are fluent in Spanish.

According to the 2012 Census, one out of every four Latinos is uninsured. This is in comparison to one in ten whites and about one in six blacks being uninsured. Given those numbers and the enormous amount spend on healthcare in the US, Mason says there is a clear need for this type of innovation.

“We needed a solution that was proportionate to the size of this problem that Hispanics are facing, this growing population,” says Mason.

Jane Delgado, president of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, says that while her organization provides similar services free of charge, there is always room for more organizations to keep the Hispanic community informed.

“People need to hear the message of a healthy lifestyle wherever they can,” she says. “It’s an issue of redundancy for it to stick.”

Samuel Arce, chairman of the National Hispanic Medical Association, says that with immigration reform at the top of the White House’s agenda, specialized Hispanic services will be even more relevant.

“If you have massive reform, you have to take care of the needs of these individuals,” says Dr. Arce. “They don’t mind being productive, but you have to take care of them."

The US Department of Health and Human Services reported that 2.6 million Latinos have gained insurance coverage since the Affordable Care Act’s first enrollment period closed in March. But even with access to services, Margarita Dilone, president of Crystal Insurance Group, says having a cultural and linguistic connection with a healthcare provider is key.

“Who else would be more qualified than a doctor who speaks your language and can understand your culture to help you access your medical needs,” she says.

Along with providing access to physicians, ConsejoSano will offer videos, blogs, and articles about wellness. Once a subscriber is enrolled, his or her file will be kept online for doctors to review during each interaction.

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