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Consult A Doctor is bridging the gap between telemedicine and mobile health with a new app designed to link iPhone users with physicians.
The Miami-based developer of telemedicine services has announced the availability of iDr 24/7, a mobile app being offered through employers and health plans who have contracted with the company. The app enables employees or health plan members to connect via Consult A Doctor’s cloud-based Telecare 3.0 platform to the company’s on-call provider network through phone, e-mail or video.
“The fact is 90 percent of adults in the U.S. have mobile phones and the majority of these adults have their mobile phones within reach 24/7,” said Wolf Shlagman, the company’s founder and CEO, in a recent press release. “At Consult A Doctor we aspire to leverage our mobile technology to further reduce healthcare costs for the healthcare community. As agents of change, we are moving rapidly to deliver on the demand for faster, easier, more connected care by eliminating traditional barriers to care, such as geographic proximity to medical professionals and the high cost of care. Our design is intuitive and built for adding value for all of the organizations we partner with, including employers, groups, health plans, hospitals, clinics and providers.”
The app gives users access to My Personal Health Manager, the company’s mobile health portal. They can connect with a network physician through My Consult Center, send secure messages through My Message Center or access educational content through My Health Center.
While the app is available now to members of Consult A Doctor’s network, company officials say it will be made more broadly available later this year to “additional groups and their members, providers and their patients in both the practice and hospital setting, as well as health plans and members.”
The launch of an iPhone app – apps for other smartphones, including the Android, will be rolled out later this year – is the latest in Consult A Doctor’s aggressive push into the patient-facing telemedicine field. At the American Telemedicine Association’s conference earlier this year in San Jose, Calif., Jack Karabees, the company’s senior vice president, pointed out that many telemedicine programs address people with complex or chronic healthcare needs, but few help the general consumer with simple healthcare problems .
“What hasn’t been seen that much in the past is the use of this technology generally for acute care,” he said. “It’s a fledgling marketplace … but it’s growing. There’s a strong demand (for) acute care services. The consumer understands that.”
Both Karabees and Schlagman said Consult A Doctor’s goal is to help the patient avoid traditional, high-cost care settings like the doctor’s office, emergency room or urgent care clinic and provide an immediate service that reduces unnecessary costs and improves clinical outcomes. The solution, they said, is particularly attractive to self-insured employers and health plans (more than 85 percent of all people get their healthcare coverage through their employer, studies have shown) looking to reduce waste and create a healthier base of employers or plan members.
“Telemedicine is rapidly transforming and revolutionizing healthcare at a velocity that is creating a high demand for solutions like Consult A Doctor's to be integrated into every aspect of healthcare,” Shlagman added in the press release. “Much like Minute Clinic's growth, which rose from less than 100,000 visits in 2006 to over 10 million visits in late 2011, we realistically foresee 100 million individuals per year accessing virtual care services and transactions by 2015. Our revolutionary, cloud-based TeleCare 3.0 telemedicine services delivery platform is proving that we can deliver faster access to quality care at the lowest cost, all while improving outcomes for payers, hospitals, providers, employers and consumers. Consult A Doctor's goal is to be the 'Intel Inside' of healthcare, powering simple, reliable and fast healthcare access and delivery for tens of millions.”
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