New Health Apps Bring The Doctor To Your Phone And Your House, Too

Pager appBy Alan Lyndon

Two high profile medical apps were introduced this week and have big-success potential based on different versions of an old-fashioned concept: the doctor visit.

HealthTap electronically brings the doctor to you. The original app was launched in 2010 as a social platform where patients could ask questions to a network of more than 60,000 physicians. That Q&A service is still available for free.  Now, the company has entered the telemedicine space with subscription-based HealthTap Prime, which provides video and chat conferencing between patient and doctor.

“We have brought all of these physicians into a marketplace available 24/7 where you can connect on text, video or voice,” Ron Gutman, CEO of HealthTap, told CNBC.

While there are other telemedicine apps already put there, Gutman emphasizes the management of care beyond an initial visit as integral to their success. The period “after the doctor’s visit is the most important part of administering care,” said Gutman. That “will determine how quickly you will recover and how well.”

That “after” period takes advantage of mobile technology and provides to the patient ongoing support through customized checklists, notifications for meds and followups, and personalized tips for better care.

HealthTap is available on iPhone and Android for $99 a month (plus an additional $10 a month for each additional family member) for unlimited virtual doctor visits.

Another app introduced this week takes an old-school approach with a modern twist.  There was a time when a doctor coming into your home was just as common as milk and bread delivered to your door.  In the 1930’s, more than 40 percent of all medical visits were physician house calls.  The co-founder of taxi-on-demand service Uber took that old-fashioned concept and combined it with mobile location theory to create Pager.

Currently available on in Manhattan, Pager allows the patient to complete a short form and connect via smartphone to a local doc.  If the “visit” is restricted to teleconference, the patient cost is $50 ($40 of which goes to the physician).  If that phone visit turns into an actual house call, the cost bumps up to $300 ($250 to the doc).  Pager docs are available for home visits between 8AM – 10PM, with an option for after-hours additional fees.

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

The Wall Street Journal reports that Pager may experiment with surge pricing, as Uber does. “If it’s flu season, it may cost more,” said Gaspard de Dreuzy, one of the investors behind Pager.

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