I agree I mean the app was free and I did not see anything that says we would have to pay for any portion. I do feel the app is wonderful and I love the help and comfort I get from all you guys. I've seen the advertising for the advice on the home screen but like youirishgirl I just ignored it. But now its showing up in our topics asking for yet more money. I too am concerned about possible scams. I hope and pray that is not the case. I have to admit it gives me pause and makes me.think twice when it comes to the information I post up here.
This app is free and is growing fast every day, and they have doctors taking time out of their day to help us get home answer to questions, so it's not to bad and it does cost to keep some apps running.
Hello dear community members We want to really assure you that this is not scam at all. We want you to feel save in this community. Our app and the community will stay free. We work together with doctors who provide professional feedback for a fee. Currently you can ask a question, to be found on the home stream or menu section. Additionally some expert answers are hidden and can get unlocked for a smaller fee. Those services can't be offered for free, as no professionals work for free. We hope you do understand and are willing to anticipate your feedback. best regards
Hello dear community members, I would like to add a few things to what my colleague has already mentioned:
All the experts that can post such blurred answers are on our medical advisory board and we know them personally and we know that they are true experts in the field of chronic pain. Nobody else can post such blurred answers. The same is true for all the experts in the "ask the expert box".
What's the idea behind those blurred answers and the ask the expert feature? In addition to the great support that you can get from the community members, we would like to provide the opportunity to get answers from actual medical doctors who are experts in their field (not everybody has access to such pain specialists). Based on my own experience of being a chronic pain patient, I believe that the key to being able to deal with your pain is a combination of peer to peer support and support from pain experts.
Why do we charge something for those services? As was mentioned before, the Pain Companion app was completely free so far and we are putting a lot of work into the app. Our team currently consists of 4 people who are working full-time. We need to find ways to make this a sustainable business. So far all of our funding has come from research grants and private investors who believe in our vision of helping chronic pain patients worldwide. But eventually this stream of funds will end and we need to build a sustainable business.
Please let us know what you think of those “expert services” and help us find a sustainable business model. Your feedback is highly appreciated.
In response to Daniel and the moderator.first let me say I appreciate your work you put into this app. I for one have gotten great benefit from it. All the features and accessibility you have allowed is great. To address the fee question I understand that having a professional provide any level of service to a group of people with such specific issues has to come at a premium. I also understand that that everyone involved especially the creator of the app has to be able to maintain a living while providing this for us all. However speaking only for myself I known I know I am not able to commit to paying any amount due to lack of income. Which is why I have not opted to use the pay feature. For me when I say the smaller pay amount under one of my post it was a shock and tooke off guard. If I was able to pay for more in-depth advice the prices u offer would OK other then having tiboay twice. If someone paid the 24$ and then was asked to pay an additional 5$ it would make me feel penny pinched. Plus if I understand it correctly the cost is per question. I would not pay that amount for a single answer. Again thank you for being so thorough in making sure we have all the available information. And offering us every opportunity to get answers to our pain and thank you for giving of your time and parts of your life to the masses. I'm sorry I'm not able to help you in the lay portion of your endeavors and I wish you all the success in this attempt.
In the last 2 months I've seen my gastroenterologist, endocrinologist, cardiologist (palpitations kept me up until 3am last night, can't tolerate beta blockers), rheumatologist (on Plaqyinyl but had my worse flare ever) neurologist, psychopharmacologist and opthamologist (several times, eyes much worse). I am more hopeless than I've ever been in my life. If $24 got me a step further I would rather pay that than go through another $1,000 biopsy, scan, or dr visit co-pay that winds up throwing me back in this endless loop of financial stress and mental anguish, searching for answers. I got a referral last week; before I finished saying my name the guy informed me he charges "$425 cash, up front, no credit cards". I won't share my response publically. But unfortunately this is a reflection--here anyway--of the current trend, particularly among certain specialties. I wouldn't pay that guy $24. But with only four trusted people here trying to maintain this site, I'd pay a professional once in awhile if I felt they could enlighten me in any way.
Many thanks for your additional feedback. It helps us a lot to understand your situation and concerns.
What do you think of the following package and pricing: You ask your question in advance and if the expert can answer it, you can talk to him/her for 10 minutes at a price of 24$. During those 10 minutes the expert will answer your initial question and as many follow-up questions as he can fit in.
Would you like such a talk to happen over chat, phone or even video call?
I am eager to hear your feedback about such a service.
@marsemouse: I am sorry to hear that you had to spend so much money without getting any satisfying results. That's exactly what happened to me a couple of years ago: I did dozens of tests and treatments and only a few of them were worth the money. Therefore I believe that in many occasions it would be better to spend a "small" amount of money on a specific question and getting an answer from somebody who is highly qualified. Such an expert can point you in the right direction and help you avoid useless tests and treatments. I hope we can achieve this with our service.
You all realize that this app is sponsored by a pharmaceutical company right? Has anyone factored that into the equation. The app is not entirely free, there are options to purchase in app add ons. While I appreciate the forum where we all can chat and bounce ideas about. The reality is look at the amount of information WE have given to the pharmaceutical company. I think anyone looking for a real prospective on chronic pain can just read our previous posts. We are a great test group.
LMB, that is not true. This app is not sponsored by a pharmaceutical company. So far we have had one partnership with a pharmaceutical company in Switzerland: They had the right to distribute vouchers to patients and doctors. With those vouchers the patients could unlock all paid features. The pharma company had and has no access to any of the data. They just offered the app as a gift.
I would lean heavily towards this being a scam. There are plenty of ways to request payment for private counselling that would use this apps established interface. Claiming "Pay me, then all will be revealed..." is like some carnival barker trying to hook the mark. "For a mere $5 (and your credit card details) I will tell you things no other person will know..." No legitimate MD is going to be hawking this kind of snake oil, and making any kind of diagnosis over the Internet is a great way to lose your license. My guess is that you can get more accurate information with a Google search and some common sense filtration on your part.
Daniel About the "experts" you mention, are they licensed or certified? I assume that you would have more than one person at a time, so how would the "patients" know which expert they would be connected to? I can imagine a patient becoming comfortable with a specific staff person, would they be able to communicate consistently with the one they have a repor with? So far I haven't encountered the pay-per-use features, are they in the main navigation? (BTW Daniel, I am assuming that you are a representative of the company that runs this service, if not, feel free to ignore these questions and be pleased that at least you sound like you know what you're talking about. 👍)
However, I want to add that we are indeed planning to use the collected pain data to do research ourselves. The goal of that research is to help each of you fight your pain. Here is a short detour to explain the research: When my pain was very bad and no doctor was able to help me, I had one constant thought in my mind: There must be other people on this planet who have exactly the same pain problem like me. And I was sure that some of them have found a solution or at least some relief for their problem already. I wanted to be able to learn from those people. I wanted my doctors to be able to learn from similar patients all around the world. Because of this strong belief and my background in computer science, I have dedicated the last five years of my life on this project. And me and my team will be working another couple of years on it until we reach our goal: We want to discover the right diagnosis and best treatment for each individual pain problem. We will always use this knowledge to your advantage and NEVER to your disadvantage. We want to help you get rid of your pain.
We won't be able to reach this ambitious goal if we don't find a sustainable business model. We could make money by advertising drugs in our apps, but we don't want to do that. We want to stay independent. The best way to stay independent is to earn money from those who are most important to us: You, the patients. That's why we are currently trying to find ways to earn money by providing services to you. That's why this discussion here is very valuable and we highly appreciate your honest feedback. Together we are stronger than pain.
@RiDave: Many thanks for your feedback and questions. Yes, I am a representative of this app/company. I am actually the CEO and co-founder of it. The paid features that LMB was talking about are in our other app (it is called CatchMyPain and it is a pain diary). The Pain Companion and the CatchMyPain app share the same community/forum. This means that you see everything that the CatchMyPain users are writing and vice versa. This can cause some confusion when people talk about the app. E.g. the CatchMyPain users who are reading this probably have no clue what all this "ask the expert" and "paid answers" stuff is all about. Sorry for that.
Regarding the alleged scam: All of our medical advisory board members are licensed medical doctors in Switzerland. There are many other services who offer doctor consults over the internet. I won't mention names because I don't want to advertise our competitors ;-) A google search will show you that it is becoming a common thing to consult a doctor over the internet. Of course, (all lawyers say that) such an online consult can never replace an actual visit to the doctor and no doctor will officially diagnose you over the internet. Yet, we think that a medical doctor who is specialized in the field of chronic pain can provide valuable guidance, answer specific questions and point you in the right direction. At this time, Dr. Marc Fouradoulas MD is helping us to evaluate this kind of service. If it turns out that this is working, we will hire more doctors. All such doctors will be hand picked.
Long story short: This is not a scam. We are trying to provide help to those who are interested in receiving such help.
Well, I guess that I stuck a stick in the hornets nest. When you go to the app store both apps are funded by Sanovation AG? So Daniel you did say above that you had partnered once 'just for vouchers' does that mean that you do not take money from them for operating costs? I know that the pain maps are to show what fibro can look like. That being said yes, we are giving your company our information (pain maps)for data collection. I do not really care, I know nothing is free and I paid for app purchases as well as volunteered in the testing of the new app. I am really not trying to stir the pot. To the point of paying for a professional consult- am I really going to take the information to my US doctor and tell them but this doctor in Switzerland said so....I do not even want to see how that would go. I have enough trouble being a patient and leaving my own medical degree in the car when I walk in the office. I do appreciate the forum and the chance to know I am not alone in the fight.
This seems unnecessarily adversarial. I've seen legit services set up like that (pay and ask) online, I don't think it's a scam. But now I'm confused. When I read the app is owned by a pharmaceutical company I was truly disappointed--that would decidedly change my perspective. But Daniel said that was not the case? I am not sure what it means that the purchases are funded by Sannovation AG, maybe someone can fill me in. Maybe I'm naive but I thought Daniel was being genuine. Maybe some Swiss doctor has a good idea for someone in here right now...or am I completely naive to the game?
Marsemause.. I'm leaning toward your point of view. I also do not feel its a scam . no personal information was asked for when I downloaded the app and in setting up screen name it was anonymous. I feel that when the subject of money came up it struck a cord with a lot of us. I know it did with me. I was slightly offended by the simple suggestion of the app asking for money to see a response I did not ask for. Now...let me also say and be clear that I love this app I love the people and I'm foelrever thankful for Daniel and his team for starting this app. It is gonna help a lot of people including me. But I know for me personally I will not be purchasing any advise from a doctor so far away mainly because I can't afford it. I'm struggling to maintain the doctor's I have locally. But that is my personal choice. There may be others who are willing to purchase advice. That is each person's choice. I feel the app has always had nothing but good will intended. And I do feel it's turned a bit finger pointy and suspicious. I don't think it's fair to the creators of the app and the doctor who is offering his time and knowledge. I think when it comes to money it should remain an option at a more economical price for those who want it. Since I will not be purchasing I feel I should not comment further on the money aspect of this discussion However as far as the subtle attempts to accuse the creator of this app of being a scam it feels a little unfair. However it's just my opinion. I could be totally wrong and totally played .however I doubt it. I've received souch comfort from the people in this group. And I hope this topic is not causing anyone any additional mir undo pain by stressing them out. I hope a solution can be found that all those who are involved can live with.
Marsemouse, I think you're probably right when you say that D. was being genuine, and that this app is legit. (Although D. did state that there are 2 apps/sites, and I only have accessed one.) That said, whether there's a pharmaceutical company acting as a silent partner, an angel investor, or looking for a tax dodge, isn't that important to me, as I can factor that when I read the data. The primary reason I opened this app is to find a community of people living with constant pain. While we are a constantly growing percentage of the population, I think it is easier to break down the self defense mechanisms through the anonymity of the Web. (This becomes important when talking about fighting pain as the struggle frequently leaves people tired and vulnerable.) As said, I'm here for the advice, support, opinions, and anything else I can get from my fellow combatants. Who owns the site, what they do with my minimal personal information (which they probably already know from accumulated data from all the other data parasites out there), etc., doesn't matter to me (yet.) If I decide to delve deeper into the site I will investigate and decide if what they ask for is to invasive (it's not like we haven't already been vivisected by marketers, cultural analysts, hackers, anonymous, and The Man.)
I think the fees are to compensate the professionals (docs) answering questions. But we already have a place to ask a question to a specialist for a much higher fee, if we wanted to (on the Pain Companion home page). I'm just not sure why we're have to pay to see a response on someone's post. Is it because that person asked a question, and unless we pay to see the response it's a hidden message? I would like to know the purpose.
Question: Why is a moderator from a diffrent app touting their wares here? (Yes they are answering queries but still, this feels like value justificaton from people with a vested interest) I understand that several people have queries but the questions were directed to this community and not their moderators or persons acting in that capacity?
I do not feel that paying for someone elses diagnoses (a diagnoses made without any physical exam or presence) would necessarily be a wise investment when there are a number of pain sufferers here that basically offer the same service for free and with a smile. Now I am not saying those of us that have had numerous procedures/examinations/meds combinations ect. are medical experts but what we do know is what works for us and that what works for us may not work for others (this being the main reason why I question the validity of paying for someones elses diagnoses, advice or whatever).
We all know that earning potential is greatly reduced (in most cases of chronic pain to zero) and some can't afford the meds/treatments that may help and the cost of these second hand reports may appear to be relatively cheap but I feel that others should not be making money out of mine or anyone elses pain....
Sorry if this is a bit rambling, these are my thoughts which at the best of times are not necessarily coherant....
Many thanks for the additional feedback and questions. First of all, let me say that I understand the concerns that many of you are having. I myself wouldn't want to be using a health related app which is owned by a pharma company. I can assure you that Sanovation AG is not a pharma company. Sanovation is our own private company which develops the CatchMyPain and the Pain Companion app. No pharma company owns any shares in Sanovation nor will they ever do in the future. This would be against our beliefs that independence is important. You can visit our company website to see for yourself: https://www.sanovation.com/
On our website you will currently find one pharma company who is listed as a partner. This is the company I mentioned above who bought vouchers/coupons from us to be able to give the app to patients for free. They did not buy any data or influence, they just wanted to be able to give away the app for free to their clients. We plan to continue doing such partnerships because we see no harm in it and the patients can actually save some money.
Now back to the ask the expert topic: We fully understand that many doctors won't like it very much when you bring in information from a different doctor, especially if that doctor only spoke to you over an app. And we also believe that there are many questions that cannot be answered in the course of such an online consult (especially if a physical examination is necessary). That's why you get a full refund if we can't answer the question to your satisfaction. Yet, we believe that there are many questions that can be answered online by a pain expert. Such a service is aimed at those of you who don't have access to a pain specialist, who have big difficulties leaving the house, who don't want to pay over a 100$ for a full doctor visit when you only have one or a few specific questions. That's why we are experimenting with this kind of service and we are trying to improve it to meet your needs and budget. We are not saying that everybody should use this service. We have made the mistake of not communicating this clearly and we apologize for all the inconveniences and hornets flying around ;-) This discussion has showed me once more that we indeed have a great community here. We really appreciate you sharing your concerns and feedback. That's what a good family does: They work it out :-)
FlappysLady, you have asked about the difference between the "Ask our expert" and the blurred answers in the forum. We haven't been very clear about that either. Sory for that, I will try to explain:
- Only you will see the answer to a question that you ask in the course of the "ask our expert" screen. Therefore this is more expensive because one person's payment needs to cover the costs on our side. - The idea behind the blurred answers within a discussion is that it is an answer which might be beneficial for more than just one person. This means that we sort of try to crowd source the expert reply: Instead of one person paying the full amount of lets say 25$, five persons pay 5$ each.
Which model makes more sense to you? Do you have suggestions for different models?
I'm guessing that you will eventually need to have 2-3 separate services: One would be a basic option that offers the community, a few helpful sections containing articles and news (and a few minimalist goodies--including coupons for discounted upgrades); the mid-level would offer all that, plus access to more sophisticated articles from staff, free webinars with experts in specific areas/causes of pain, specific questions answered in text by the staff (but on a first come basis), plus monthly specials; the third option would be a platinum service offering all of the above, and everything else you are currently planning. This could include private live chats with experts, more sophisticated webcasts, and so on. The trick will be gathering enough participants for each layer. One solution is to build the highest and lowest levels, then bringing in the midrange. (Of course building just the first and second layer would be easier and less of a commitment, however you wouldn't have the platinum option to use in marketing, etc.).
Also, how are these payments processed? Do they go through our accounts like the app add one with CMP, through Google? Or are we to enter credit info? I might not mind the app payment method, but I'm not sure of a different payment method.
Another thought... Occasionally create a live doctors "presentation & discussion" where anyone who wants to attend paid a nominal $10-$15 fee for 30-60 minutes. Change the topics so it's different presenters, like fibromyalgia, sjogrens, CRPS, etc. I can't remember the name of it, but at work we use to log into one site where everyone could chat together. 🙏🌼
I guess we don't all see the same screen depending on our droid/iPhone device. If there is going to be any kind of pay option, blurred lines would annoy rather than attract me. That kind of advertising frustrates me and generally makes me lose interest in an app. If the app is sponsored by a pharmaceutical company I'd like to know up front. If a service is offered I want the terms clear and not misleading. It's not the idea here--which Daniel seems to be gathering information about--but the presentation and feeling that I'm being dealt with fairly and honestly. I don't expect a comprehensive understanding of the business aspect but I don't like to be misled. Maybe someone could take a screen shot and show me what the blurred lines look like--could they be replaced with a direct marketing message? If I read correctly, the pay-to-ask idea appeared unexpectedly in a way that felt intrusive in context. I didn't see that so I don't know. I don't have any reason to doubt a swiss expert anymore than I do American expert but I don't expect the same contact you'd have in a doctor's office from any app. I don't use Facebook so I'm not familiar with their forums.
It's only visible in the android Pain Companion, which is why no one using IPhones or CMP see these. I have no idea on screen shots. Anybody else help this? I like RiDaves 3 tier level idea. "Webinar" is what I was trying to describe. 🙏🌼
@Daniel, thank you so much for sharing information with us. Might I suggest that transparency & trust go hand in hand and that you have a link or links to credentials and information about the experts so we can see them.
Also, if you continue your Freemium model, why not apply that to the experts. Perhaps you could have a drawing and give away one free Expert Response per month. The users can then share their experiences with the rest of us and it has the potential to spread faster (if the benefits outweigh the costs).
Makes more sense to allow others to pay a dollar or so to see an answer to a question that pertains to him or her. I wouldn't be interested in paying a flat fee for all answers or frankly any answers that do not pertain to me. For example, I'd like to just skip over responses to fibro question as I don't suffer from that.
Let me get this straight. This new feature is only available through the Pain Companion, which is only accessible by a percentage of community members? Meaning that not all of us will be able to utilize the Expert Advice just because we have iPhones? This kind of ticks me off. Why has this inequity not been addressed? I think before you start adding features like this you should make sure everyone has access to it.
When they first released it they said it was only available on Android devices and they're working on the iphone/apple version. There's apps I can get on my phone but not my tablet, and vice versa. I think that is fairly common for most new apps, and why apps have so many updates for improvements. Hopefully they will have the version for IPhone/Apple systems very soon!
If you have no android phone and still want to get a preview of PainCompanion you can always use our web-client. Visit http://web.paincompanion.com for it, but beware that some features are missing, especially the expert replies can't be bought with it. Best regards
@RiDave I like the idea with the 3 tiers of service. I think for now we don't have enough to offer to split it up in three tiers. But in the future I could imagine having such a model.
@FlappysLady81 The payments are processed through your Google Account. This means you don't have to enter your credit card information. I really like the idea about the webinar. We'll have to try that in the future.
@marsemouse The blurr effect is meant to be able to show you how long the answer of the expert is. We will add more information on such blurred items to make sure nobody is mislead.
@rkolle01 We will provide more information about the expert. That's a great idea about giving away a couple of free expert responses. But instead of a random drawing I would prefer giving those responses away on a reward basis. E.g. each week or month we chose the person whose post got the most likes. This way those who offer valuable support will get an expert answer in reward.
@cmlt72 The flat fee is to reveal all expert answers in one discussion thread / topic. We assume that people would be interested in all answers to that topic. And the expert will probably provide follow-up answers on that topic.
@AmieLeBlanc I apologize that you and many others don't have access to this new feature yet. But we wanted to offer this feature to some of you as early as possible instead of waiting. Otherwise nobody would be able to benefit from it yet. Offering the service this early also gives us the opportunity to improve it based on the feedback. And as this discussion thread shows, there is a lot of space for improvement. We will try to release the Pain Companion app on the iPhones soon.
Again, many thanks for all your feedback. As my colleague has mentioned, we have already reduced the price of the expert replies inside a discussion thread and more improvements will follow next week. Your feedback is important to us and we act upon it.
I agree that getting the most likes isn't really a good way to do the draw. Maybe a random draw of the names of people who were active in the community within whatever period of time. One entry per person. So if the time line is a week maybe anyone who commented or posted something gets an entry and if you were not active (actually posting something) then you don't get an entry for that draw. We don't want to clutter the page with useless posts which is why i said one per person, not one per post.
Marsemouse, don't go. I think rather than basing it on "# of likes ", it should be done like a lottery drawing. But when a person wind, their name can't be in the next drawing. Hope does that idea sounds? 🙏🌼