On-demand apps like Uber have been receiving a lot of attention for how they are changing the way people receive a variety of different services. While transportation is one of the larger parts of the on-demand economy, there are now similar apps that operate in a wide range of other industries.
With some startups looking to transfer the on-demand model to medicine, we could see the revival of the in-house doctor’s visit. Let’s take a look at on-demand healthcare apps and healthcare app development to see whether this type of service could help to solve some of the problems with the current healthcare system.
Healthcare Services in the Home
The house call was a common part of medicine 40-50 years ago. However, most people alive today have never experienced this type of healthcare service. As populations grew and doctors started joining healthcare networks, the idea of the community doctor became a thing of the past. In the modern day, healthcare services are more focused on efficiency and fitting within the bounds of an insurance plan.
While this model does have its benefits for providing care to a large population, it does come with certain drawbacks. This has some on-demand app developers believing that they can fill the gaps in the healthcare system by making services accessible through a smartphone, laptop, or tablet.
FriendHealth provides a good example of how this can work. With this on-demand healthcare app, people can arrange for a house call from a registered nurse from their phone. These nurses are prepared to provide a range of healthcare services in the home, and if the need arises, they can also contact a doctor for further assistance.
How On-Demand Healthcare Works
You can already find a variety of apps that offer on-demand healthcare services. Some of the specifics of the services will vary from one app to the next, but the basics of getting an on-demand house call are surprisingly simple.
The first step would be for the patient to open the app or website for the service. They could then schedule an appointment while providing some basic information to the service. The patient would provide their address, a time for the appointment, and possibly fill out a questionnaire to provide information about the care they need.
A healthcare professional would arrive at the requested time. With a range of mobile healthcare equipment, the service provider could then perform a range of services to meet the needs of the patient. This could include everything from an annual physical to IV therapy, the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, and lab work.
The patient would then be charged depending on the services they received through the app. Some apps charge strictly through credit cards, but there are some that do work with insurance providers to cover the fees.
Pros and Cons
On-demand healthcare services do offer several benefits to consumers. One of the most obvious is the convenience factor. Being able to receive care in the home and on your schedule is perhaps the most obvious improvement.
Beyond that, the on-demand model also takes healthcare out of the demanding environment of a hospital or doctor’s office. With care coming to your home, you get a more personalized experience and added face-to-face time with the healthcare professional.
This model could also help to reduce ER admissions rates and wait times. With the ability to get a healthcare professional out to the home when you need assistance, there will be no need to go to an emergency room for anything other than a true emergency. This is beneficial to the patient and to the healthcare system as a whole.
As a negative, house calls are not the most efficient way to provide care. In a formal healthcare setting, everything is set up to move patients through quickly, allowing doctors to see dozens of patients a day. When you consider the need to travel from patient to patient, a doctor who is exclusively performing house calls would only be able to see about 10-12 patients in a day.
These services also tend to perform well in urban areas but less well in rural areas. In an urban setting, there are plenty of healthcare professionals to build a functional on-demand network. There are also enough patients to make the system profitable for service providers. In many rural areas, however, it will be difficult to build the networks that make these apps practical.
Some of these issues could potentially be solved by combining telemedicine with the on-demand house call model. Have the patients consult with a doctor over video chat or through text. In many cases, the issues could be resolved during the chat. In other cases, the doctor could refer them to a healthcare professional in their area.
With this type of service, the healthcare professionals and the patients could use their time more efficiently. This type of system could also help to make up for a lack of doctors in areas where it is difficult to build a complete network of healthcare professionals.
On-demand healthcare apps won’t solve all of the problems with the current healthcare system, but they can improve the experience of patients in a number of different situations. As a result, we should expect see more services offering on-demand healthcare in the home.