TECH: First Opinion–mysterious but now rich

I’ve heard about this company but despite a couple of half-hearted efforts to get in touch never figured out what First Opinion did.

The First Opinion system is a medical knowledge-based system designed to give medical advice to the general public. Using Internet, wireless, interactive voice response, and automatic speech technologies, as well as three new authoring languages, the First Opinion system encodes a highly useful core of expert and general practitioner diagnostic and treatment knowledge into a computer system that can be accessed by non-medically trained personnel. <SNIP> The First Opinion system provides up-to-date medical advice for approximately 200 of the most commonly encountered problems in general practice and emergency medicine. If a chronic disease is diagnosed, the diagnostic system can refer the patient to the First Opinion system’s automated disease management system. The system also transmits a full report of the interaction to the patient and the patient’s physician. It can also provide valuable information to the public on numerous additional medical topics.

But at least someone was paying attention. Last week Healthways paid $22.3m for the company.

Meanwhile Healthways itself has seen its stock go on a tear the last few days. Anyone out there have a theory as to why?  It can’t have been just Gordon Norman’s bullish views on DM—or was it just the Kramer effect once more?


Anyone knowing any more about either story, let the rest of us know in the comments.


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  1. Matthew,
    I know the founder and owner of First Opinion. The system contains overlapping databases (quite novel and algorithmically elegant) that continual refine the probability of a diagnosis through a standardized set of questions. It is a great tool with several innovative applications.
    $23M? Now thats a lot of surfboards!