TelemedicineThere are countless conflicting ideas surrounding what the future of Urgent Care might look like for the American public. Walk-in urgent care centers continuously spring up around the nation, and the physicians in this field continue to push limitations and boundaries, proving that they’re capable of meeting almost any need posed by a patient. However, what’s inarguable is the role played by new technology and telemedicine services when it comes to transforming this industry, particularly services that provide doctors on demand. 

Pager, which is an application that flaunts the tagline “skip the waiting room,” allows patients to schedule a health check and assessment of overall health via their mobile device. Patients are effectively able to connect with a nurse practitioner or doctor and receive answers to questions and concerns. They’re able to talk to a certified doctor or nurse over the phone, who will help to diagnose and treat symptoms. Additionally, doctors are made available to visit you at your home, office or hotel. They’re can help you wherever you are. 

DoctorOnDemand, HealthTap, Remedy Inc. LiveHealth Online, Microsoft HealthVault, HelloMD, Text4Baby, PillPack, Ping MD, Heal, Medicast, and RevUp are similar apps, available at different costs, which has and will continue to impact the way patients and doctors treat health and wellness. These services are a new twist on the old concept of house calls provided by doctors, but these direct-to-consumer services also attempt to cater to the immediacy of modern life.

Experts tend to agree that these technologies fill a necessary void, providing timely service to those who are immobile or shut-in. However, there are drawbacks. Firstly, these services tend to only be available in major cities, such as Seattle, New York, Nashville and San Francisco. Also, while you’re put into contact with a doctor with the same amount of effort that it might take to order a pizza, you aren’t in an urgent care facility, which likely has the tools and the devices to treat your ailment. Also, some patients do risk being misdiagnosed by competent, but misinformed drop-by clinicians working for medical apps. Some simply aren’t trained to make house calls, and others may not be the correct specialist to meet your needs or service your particular emergency. Additionally, these services don’t foster long-term doctor-patient relationships.

For those choosing to use these apps, be sure to do your research because technologies and doctors differ. Moreover, know the difference between emergency and urgent, don’t neglect primary care, and pay attention to your history and records to help that doctor to properly identify any potential long-term illnesses or chronic conditions.

Together, new apps, primary care, emergency services and urgent care services can work together to offer you the health care that you truly need.