Mobile healthcare: Applications bringing back the house call

Many of us aren't old enough to remember a time when doctors made house calls. Today, when a person falls ill, they must call their physician's office and arrange for an appointment, or face the dreaded waiting room at the nearby hospital. However, new healthcare apps look to change all this.

The world of healthcare technology has made leaps and bounds in recent years, and many of these advances have centered around improving the level of care and service patients receive. New mobile applications are aiming to take these innovations a step farther. According to CNN, there are a number of apps currently available that allow users to "request a doctor with just the push of a button."

Pager: Uber-inspired house call app
CNN noted that around 70 years ago, house calls made up just under half - 40 percent - of all medical visits. However, the number of home appointments fell to 1 percent by the 1980's, oftentimes the result of insurance carrier funding gaps. Uber co-founder Oscar Salazar is hoping that new mobile technology in healthcare will help support a comeback for house​ calls.

One of these available mobile doctor request applications is Pager, created by Salazar, who also helped develop Uber, the popular taxi request program. The Wall Street Journal contributor Katherine Rosman explained that Pager is fairly similar to Uber, and allows users to send out a request for a doctor and the app provides several nearby options. These will include a range of details, including the doctor's photo, specialties, credentials and how much the visit will cost. The user can then select their preferred physician and receive a call from the person in minutes.

"Convenient access to quality health care when you need it is a real problem," noted Salazar. "We're using technology to make the house call - one of the best ways to get personal care - viable again."

An opportunity for developers
According to Rosman, the app is still in the testing process, with 20 physicians currently participating. There are already similar programs available on the market that have seen success. noted CNN. One user, mother of two Elizabeth Krusic, said she used Midcast, another mobile doctor request application, when one of her children was ill. The physician came to her house within 30 minutes with a prescription ready.

"My son was able to sleep during the entire visit, because the doctor came to the house," Krusic told CNN. "The doctor came into my daughter's room and conducted the visit there, where she was comfortable."

Rosen noted that with Pager, users are charged differently for phone consultations and home visits, with the app receiving a small portion of the fee. These kinds of applications present a new opportunity for developers to create impactful, beneficial healthcare resources. And with Strategy Analytics reporting that the mobile application market poised to reach $60 billion in revenues by the end of 2018, chances are good that these programs will not only be helpful to the public, but will be profitable for the companies developing them.

However, the development process must be as streamlined as possible to allow for a quick time to market. By leveraging HTML5 form as the application's main component suite, development teams can cut down on the time it takes to create the program by using a language that is cross-platform compatible. This way, developers need only establish one version of code that will work on all operating systems.

Updates are improved through the use of HTML5 as well. Teams can also create a single upgrade or patch that will be effective for all versions of the program, allowing application owners to easily add or adjust content as they need to.


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