'Doctor on Demand' gives medical attention without the wait

Published On: Sep 03 2014 01:46:53 PM EDT
Updated On: Sep 03 2014 11:00:00 PM EDT
ORLANDO, Fla. -

We all know how frustrating it can be to try and get a doctor's appointment, especially at the last minute. 

In fact, the average wait time across the country to get in to see a doctor is 22 days, and once you get in, you still have to wait to see the doctor.

There may be a solution to those long wait times, thanks to Doctor on Demand.

"I didn't have a physician yet, and I needed a refill for my beta blockers that I take every day," said Michelle Harrison, who just moved to Central Florida.

So Harrison decided to use Doctor on Demand and downloaded the app to her iPhone. (Link for iPhone app, Link for Android app)

First, you fill out what's wrong or your symptoms and current medication you are taking, before speaking to a board certified doctor. Harrison said the process was easy.

"He had me check my heart rate, asked for my blood pressure, medical history, I felt like he did a very thorough job," she said.

The doctor prescribed Michelle a three-month supply of beta blockers but did make a request.

"He definitely recommended I get a local physician, which I plan to do, just did not at that time," she said.

Pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Thielhelm has reservations about medical apps like this.

"I think you have to be careful with the doctor apps, because they aren't really regulated," she said.

She prefers her patients to use medical apps for tracking information, like baby tracker, which tracks time you feed, sleep, etc. Thielhelm says a face-to-face examination is the best method when seeing a doctor.

"How do they even know how to treat you when they don't see you? It’s worrisome to prescribe something to people you don't see," she said.

"We are far more regulated than going into a physical location medicine," said Dr. Pat Basu, chief medical officer for Doctor on Demand.

The app is regulated by a few agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, prescribing guidelines by the Drug Enforcement Administration and HIPAA.

Basu said doctors use two main skills to diagnose conditions -- looking and listening to you. Using a video visit allows their doctors to do both without having to "touch."

"The odds are very slim I am clinching the diagnosis where my hands are physically on you anymore," Basu said.

But Theilhelm said often you can't tell from a symptom; you really have to examine a patient.

"I think if you're a pretty healthy adult, you can get away with it, but I certainly wouldn't recommend it for children," Theilhelm said.

According to Basu, the best use for Doctor on Demand is for an urgent care diagnosis, like sinusitis, bronchitis, a child with a rash, pink eye, cold sores and urinary tract infections. It is not for very serious or very chronic type illnesses.

As for prescriptions, they do not prescribe any narcotics, mainly antibiotics and refills.

"We are not going to try and replace your doctor," Basu said. "In fact if you come back to our service too frequently or try come back for a second diabetes refill or second high blood pressure refill, we will politely give you instructions on what to do but say you need to go in person to see your doctor for this before you can use our service."

Harrison said what she liked the best was the convenience and the cost. There is a $40 fee to speak to a doctor. The service is available in 47 states, including Florida.

Not only is Doctor on Demand popular with patients, but doctors as well. They have had more than 12,000 doctors apply to work for Doctor on Demand.

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