Mobile app to connect you to Doctor from any Location
By Felicia Bonanno
A mobile app launched by two brothers from Montreal would allow users to seek and receive professional medical advice from their cell phones. The mobile app, called Doctor Pocket, was developed to tackle multiple healthcare issues.
CEO Jeffery Khoury says the idea for the application came to him while studying abroad in the Middle East. Having grown up in a family of doctors, Jeffery never needed to look far for sufficient health care until he moved and had to seek medical advice from outside of his family of physicians.
“I never had the peace of mind or comfort that I was used to back home,” he says. “I would wait days or weeks to see a doctor, only to see one and not feel confident in them.” To avoid long waits and gambling on poor health care, Jeffery eventually started calling his cousin when he needed a doctor. “I started just having medical consultations with my cousin on the phone.”
That’s when the idea was sparked to build an avenue for others to receive the same quick and simple access to a doctor.
With the aid of his relatives, Jeffery began recruiting doctors and assembling a team to help build Doctor Pocket, or DP. Users of the app are able to choose a physician from DP’s list of medical professionals and global specialists based on profiles. They immediately have the option to schedule an appointment to chat with the doctor they choose. During their smartphone appointment, the app user describes their medical history, if appropriate, and their symptoms, just like at an in-person doctor visit. The difference is the virtual experience – doctors may not be able to take vitals, but with the messenger platform’s ability to send high resolution images, they can still get a visual on a patient’s symptoms.
The mobile app is meant only for non-emergencies, such as a cough or slight sprain. Jeffery hopes DP will help prevent symptoms of minor health concerns from worsening during the wait time before a doctor visit.
“Instead of looking at the current medical situation from afar, with a broad perspective, we're starting out specific with the patient,” says Anthony Khoury, President of Doctor Pocket.
One of the most pressing patient issues, the brothers say, is long waiting periods.
A national healthcare search and consulting firm conducted a survey in 2014 that found the average wait time for people to see a physician in the United States is 18.5 days. In Boston, the same survey found, the average wait to see a dermatologist is 72 days.
“What we want to give is easy, quick access to world class physicians for anyone, whether they’re in a developed country, but especially those in developing countries,” Anthony says.
“With Doctor Pocket, someone could connect with a neurologist from Harvard or an orthopedist from Yale from anywhere in the world,” Jeffery says.
Dr. Bachir Macuacua, MD, a general practitioner in Mozambique, was one of the first to sign up for Doctor Pocket.
“Several people in my country can afford cell phones and a mobile network but don’t have access to a health facility,” he says. “They have to travel several miles just to receive medical advice.” Dr. Macuacua hopes Doctor Pocket will meet the needs of these people. He also believes Doctor Pocket will allow doctors to easily follow up with their patients, especially if they live far from the medical facility.
A doctor on the other side of the globe agrees. “Patients in rural areas lacking a certain specialty will not need to worry anymore about traveling far to get medical care,” says Dr. Mark Abi Nader, MD, of Kidney Care Consultants in Memphis. Dr. Nader was also one of the first to join the team of doctors on DP. “Patients or healthcare professionals seeking second opinions from experts in the field, debilitated patients unable to visit offices, individuals looking for medical answers, all will all have it easier now.”
Doctor Pocket will be a tool for travelers, as well. Those about to adventure can receive medical advice in advance about what vaccines to receive before travelling or what to be wary of medically at their destination. With doctors available from all over the world, users can choose their preferred language and have a consultation in their native tongue while they’re abroad, as well.
“I really want users to have the luxury of picking the doctor they can have a virtual consultation with, from anywhere in the world, at a reasonable price, but especially if they can’t afford to travel the world to see the specialists,” Jeffery says.
And if they need, patients can quickly and easily receive more than one medical opinion, which both Dr. Nader and Dr. Macuacua agree could aid people significantly.
For those who already have insurance and access to health care, the Khoury brothers hope to provide a quicker and more convenient avenue for health advice, saving people extensive wait times and exposure to germs in clinics, and also freeing up crowding doctors’ offices and emergency rooms for patients whose sickness or injury is chronic or more serious.
Dr. Nader says he believes telemedicine is becoming a reality with the help of Doctor Pocket. “This will help benefit humankind in terms of better health care access, cost effectiveness, and may prove to improve healthcare outcomes,” he says.
They hope the app will expand to host hundreds more doctors. “We plan to grow the application based on feedback to meet the needs of its users,” Anthony says. “We hope in the future Doctor Pocket can address even bigger problems.”