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Using sharing economy tech to help you find a doctor

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Using sharing economy tech to help you find a doctor

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Today I’ve covered three stories highlighting some cool things that are being done in the field of mobile healthcare.  The first two posts have looked at new devices that aim to make monitoring and detecting various diseases from out in the field a whole lot cheaper and easier.  As you can perhaps imagine, both have been on the high technology side of things.

This final post for the day is taking some technology that’s already widely deployed and putting it to use in an interesting and novel way.  Pager is an app that uses many of the same location based technology that underpins services such as Uber and Lyft.The service allows patients to order a house visit from a doctor via their smartphone.  As the service only launched a few months ago, it is currently only available in Manhattan and Brooklyn, but the developers hope to roll it out across more cities in the next year.

It is perhaps not surprising that the service shares some similarities with Uber as Pager co-founder Oscar Salazar was previously an engineer at Uber, before departing to help establish Pager.

“We do share some of that (Uber) DNA,” said Toby Hervey, marketing director at Pager. “Our doctors come to you. It’s on demand.”

Central to the device is the belief that healthcare is gradually shifting away from something that you go to consume towards something that comes to you, and comes to you at a time that is convenient.  The kind of devices covered in the two previous posts today allow us to monitor our health via mobile devices, whilst apps such as Pager allow us to request a doctors visit from the comfort and convenience of our own home.

It makes sense for healthcare providers as well as patients, as hospital care is expensive and often unwelcoming for patients, whilst of course the infection control in many hospitals is far from ideal.  Above all else though, it is a long awaited return of making the patient the focal point rather than the doctor.

“It’s all of the patient care and none of the bureaucracy,” Mr. Hervey said, explaining the appeal of Pager for both the patient as well as the 20 physicians who are now part of the Pager network. Most of them, he said, are current or former ER physicians.

A typical house call via Pager will cost the patient $199 during the day-time, rising to $299 for evenings and weekends.  The doctor keeps approximately 80% of any fees generated via the service, with Pager pocketing the rest.

Suffice to say, this cost would then be reimbursed by the patients health insurance plan in America.  Whether such a payment model would prohibit the use of Page (or similar system) in countries with different means of accessing and paying for healthcare is of course a major issue.

The technology is however very easy to use, with patients selecting from a range of on call doctors via the app.  The selected doctor will then call you within five minutes to provide an initial consultation over the phone, before determining whether a house call is required, which will happen within an hour.

“More physicians than not are resistant to change,” Jasper Schmidt, Pager’s lead medical provider, said. But as more consumers begin demanding convenient care options, “medicine is going to have to accommodate that trend.”

I sense overcoming resistance to such an approach in Britain may be harder than they realise, but hopefully it will add to the groundswell of initiatives that are hoping to make healthcare more responsive.

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