Are apps bringing back the house call?

doctor house call

Skip the surgery waiting room by getting the doctor to come to you

New apps such as Pager and Medicast are making house calls popular again by locating and contacting doctors who can come to your home for a consultation.

iPhone app Pager, created by Oscar Salazar, offers house call services for patients in Manhattan and Brooklyn, with doctors available between 8.00am and 10.00pm every day of the year, with an additional after hour fee for nights and weekends. Customers can range from parents who don’t want to lug young children to GP practices or A&E, especially if they have sole care of more than one child, as well as businesspeople, who have no spare time to visit a doctor during the course of the working day. Medicast presents a similar solution, offering doctors across South Florida, San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles.

Toby Hervey, Pager’s head of marketing and business development, told CNN “Convenient access to quality health care when you need it is a real problem. We’re using technology to make the house call — one of the best ways to get personal care — viable again.”

Doctors coming to you

Dr. Kimberly Henderson, a Pager physician, said “I believe we will see a shift away from medical practice exclusively in the brick and mortar model. Medicine will become, or return to being, more mobile.”

As the doctor shortage grows and patients struggle to balance their busy lives, telemedicine has become a fast-growing field. Healthcare professionals offer their services using two-way video, e-mail, smartphones and other forms of technology. Apps, such as Doctor on Demand and Ringadoc, allow patients to speak to a clinician via phone or video chat. Other American services include PINGMD, where enrolled coctors can receive text, photo or video messages from their patients that can be forwarded to colleagues for referrals and are automatically saved to the patient’s medical file. Another app, HealthTap, connects patients to 50,000 doctors across the country for verified answers to medical questions. Patients can search the database or ask their own questions and receive responses from multiple doctors, providing them with several opinions.

Although the apps are only currently available for iPhone, Pager and Medicast are actively working on an Android app. For non-iPhone users, their services are also available by phone and on their websites. They also have plans to move into other markets in the near future.