Can you access your physician when you need to? Is your physician available on the weekend?
Technology and new applications are changing the delivery of healthcare. Many questions can be quickly and seamlessly addressed with new application developments focused on convenient access to health services and professionals.
The #1 reason the average Joe or Jane seeks medical care is to address acute symptoms such as a cold or injury. The mobile application market has unearthed several good options for accessing a physician virtually. HealthTap is a free web and mobile application that polls doctors for answers to your health questions. This service has partnered with thousands of licensed practitioners to retrieve quick responses to your urgent questions. Another similar app created by two ER doctors, iTriage, uses a proprietary Symptom to Provider’ pathway to find the most appropriate physician for your needs. The app also has a facility locator, statistics on average wait times, appointment setup, and the ability to view your own PHR (personal health record) through Microsoft HealthVault.
With access to such powerful online and mobile tools, there are concerns about privacy, reliability, and anonymity. The applications are largely based on the user networks for ratings driven by user reviews. HealthTap reports that all PHR and Health Activity are completely secure and private. If you choose to have a private conversation with a doctor ($10), only your name and Health Activity will be visible through the app. The medical content on iTriage is written by in-house clinicians and all diseases and procedures are given ICD-9 (International Classification of Diseases) and CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) codes from a Certified Professional Coder.
These tools are a huge improvement from little to no resources just a few years ago. Having the ability to access and view your own healthcare data, albeit a small portion of self-reported information, is a good start to increasing transparency and fully integrating Electronic Health Records between the patient and the provider. This is one step in the right direction towards helping consumers actively manage their own health and reducing the overall healthcare cost burden in the U.S. The words ‘health’ and ‘free’ are rarely seen together, so what are you waiting for? Take this chance to manage your health!?