Several startups throughout the United States are attempting to make medical care more convenient by bringing doctors to your door. Apps for your smartphone or tablet, such as Heal in Los Angeles and San Francisco or Pager in New York City, will send a physician to your residence upon request.

 

On-demand medical care apps operate much like Uber. In order to receive treatment, the user downloads the app, inputs their credit card information, location, and their reason for medical assistance. The user’s location and symptoms are forwarded to the closest available medical professional who then responds to the request. In fact, Oscar Salazar, a co-founder of Pager, helped design the prototype for Uber.

 

For a flat fee of $99, Heal will send a licensed medical professional to your door in under 60 minutes. Pager charges users $50 for their first time and $200 for each additional use. Instead of spending hours waiting in an ER or taking time off from work to visit your doctor’s office, users of on-demand medical apps can schedule appointments without interrupting their day. This form of medical treatment is very useful for working parents, professionals who travel and do not have a permanent physician, and anyone who is just generally busy. These apps are most effective in urban areas where populations are more highly concentrated and medical professionals are within close proximity.

 

artistic depiction of a doctor and patient

(NY Times)

On-demand medical care apps have drawn criticism from some medical professionals. Doctors who visit a patient’s home do not have access to the patient’s medical history. Along the same lines, if a user physically goes to a doctor’s office or an emergency room, the diagnosis and results from their previous in home visit will not immediately be available to their current doctor. These problems put the responsibility on the user to document their personal medical history.

 

There are still some kinks to work out of the business model, including: insurance coverage, the supply and demand of available medical professionals, and ensuring sanitary conditions for patients. However, startups such as Heal and Pager are creating more convenient and easy to use medical assistance.  

 

Will on-demand medical care apps begin to replace traditional visits to the doctor’s office? Leave a comment or find me on twitter @Andrew_Morse4