Healthcare apps – is this the future?

Dr Now is one of several health care apps available, aiming to help busy patients get a quick consultation.

Health care apps

Will health care apps supplant the professionals?

Patients pay a relatively small subscription and a fee for each consultation,much lower than the cost of “private GP” services. Given the length of wait for an NHS appointment, it seems pretty much guaranteed that these services will be successful. On the down side the doctor will not know you (so no change there) but I guess they will have your notes and the use of skype or facetime will mean the consultation will be seen as well as heard. The remote GP can refer on and can send a prescription to your local pharmacy. No doubt though these companies will have registered AHPs to refer to so it could be another referral opportunity.

Are these a good thing?

If it takes some stress off the NHS doctors and gets the patient treated quickly it would seem so. There is though, a counter argument that this could be the thin end of the wedge, if fewer patients are using the NHS it will be funded even less and the cycle of funding/delivery will spiral further down.

Will these be used by AHPs?

Our clients at Real Time Reception are all healthcare professionals in the private sector already, but we are very interested in keeping ahead of new developments. Talking therapists are already engaged with health care apps and technology,  providing consultations over a cameraphone. Physical therapies, on the other hand, are by definition pretty much hands on, so it is more difficult to see how delivery of these treatments could change; but diagnoses could be assisted by apps, filming for biomechanics assessment, and CADCAM orthotics seems an obvious one, sending photos of rashes or even vps. ( Interesting to think about how you would charge for this. I don’t know if this happens to you but friends of frends will quite often shuck off their shoes and socks and expect a quick diagnosis for free.)

Benefits

We can already use health apps and fitbits to test heart rate, blood pressure, temperature. If you are a known diabetic you can have an app to monitor blood glucose, parents with a diabetic child can remotely monitor their blood sugar. Insulin can be delivered as needed in real-time.

The cost of equipment can be much lower. There is an ultrasound probe that links to an app. And, of course the information from these sources can be stored in the patients records, and also shared anonymously for big data.

It wouldn’t seem too ridiculous now to think of a robot doing surgery, particularly the type of surgery that requires microscopic work.

Will it improve access to treatment?

It should, but there will still be a need for intelligent human oversight, because sometimes you need to think outside the algorithm.