Today I received a birth announcement in my email. It wasn’t from a relative or a friend of a friend, but it still caught my eye. Actually, my iPhone spotted it before me and started sending me cutesy, smiley emoticons, so I knew I had to pay attention.
As a freelance writer, I get all sorts of press releases. Basically publicists describe the products they represent in glowing terms and try to persuade me to do stories on them. Once in a while I bite. The Product du Jour on this auspicious day was an app called FirstOpinion. This is how it works: Should you be in the furthest reaches of the Antarctic with only an ice cave for shelter, this app promises to help you and your significant Eskimo deliver your baby. The developer of FirstOpinion faced a similar situation with his wife when the couple were abroad. Thus a new app was born along with his child.
According to publicist Ann Murray, the app is, of course, wonderful, since it promises “fast service, privacy and low cost with unlimited messaging back and forth.” This last specification comes in handy if you and hubby are alone on a desert island with only a six-pack of a premium crafter’s beer to keep you company. Such was nearly the case with Andrea and James Johnson. The Louisiana couple were three hours away from the nearest hospital when Andrea began having severe contractions. Baby Joey wasn’t going to wait for the two parents-to-be to gas up the old Chevy and speed off to Baton Rouge Hospital. Nosiree. Not with the head close to making a spectacular appearance. What if the Johnsons were motoring down one of those rural backroads outside of Yancy Parish when one of those bayou-by-the-sea gators moseyed onto the tarmac and dared the Johnsons to go around him? What if the grotesque site of a gator chomping on a woodland creature added to the excitement and pushed Andrea over the edge? Baby Joey could emerge right there on the side of the road, only a few feet away from the salivating gator?
Well, that didn’t happen, thank the great cajun god above. And all because James had FirstOpinion on his smart phone (I’m not sure if it comes in Android, but you can contact me if you’re interested in purchasing). With a few concise texts, James was able to deliver Baby Joey, and all ended well.
Which got me thinking. Boy, that sure was a savings Obama would salute. Just eliminating the expenses of ambulance, Ob-gyn services, hospitalization–not to mention what James saved on flowers and cute baby pics–was impressive. The question is, though, what other uses does FirstOpinion have? I cannot see seniors texting: “I fell and I can’t get up.” Just the fine muscular coordination alone it would take to punch out that message would be too arduous for the average 50-pluser, who unfortunately is all thumbs only when it comes to programming the VCR. Another glitch in the scenario is he or she would have to remain fully conscious to receive and respond to the reply. That’s not going to work because most of the seniors I know who fall usually just call 9-1-1, click on the TV and veg out until help comes.
On the other hand FirstOpinion might work as a backup for hypochondriacs who can’t get to their concierge physician fast enough or whose BF is having a massage and is thus unavailable for diagnostic assistance. People worried that they might have Ebola or some other exotic disease might get quick relief from FirstOpinion. A succinct message sent to and from a sympathetic app just might give them the peace of mind necessary to carry on with their daily life tasks. Suppose, for instance, Ms. Hypochondriac texted a panicked burst of angst such as “I can’t stop itching, and I read somewhere this could be the precursor to the life-threatening Buggly Syndrome.” A FirstOpinion doc could then shoot back something calming and soothing such as “It’s not Buggly or you’d be dead already, but when’s the last time you tested for STDs?
There are all sorts of possibilities for FirstOpinion, if you want my opinion.