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Need to see your doctor on your smartphone? - Now there is an app for that

Published:Sunday | November 6, 2016 | 11:00 AMRyon Jones
Dr Winston Davidson

Public health care in Jamaica has been made cheaper since the removal of user fees, but this has resulted in persons having to endure lengthy wait times in order to receive medical attention at public hospitals. Not to mention the problems users face with inadequate service and scarce medical supplies and medication.

Now, one of Jamaica's leading, noteworthy doctors is seeking to use technology to remedy the problem, with the creation of a new app that will allow persons to remotely consult with their doctor.

Dr Winston Davidson, the conceptualiser behind the app, Doctor on Call, is touting it as a game changer in Jamaica, as it will allow for fast, easy and cost-effective access to health care.

Now in the trial phase, Doctor on Call can be downloaded from the Google and Apple Play stores to any smart device, or by using the Chrome or Firefox browsers on laptops or personal computers to access it from www.doctoroncalljamaica.com. It is expected to be fully operational by early next year.

"Sixteen years of work has been put into developing this particular app. It is a method of applying information and technology to medicine and the management of patients by their doctors," said Davidson, who has been practising medicine for over 45 years.

"It is using best-practice technology; known as WebRTC (Real-Time communication), which is the most modern platform. And it is using the ubiquitous technology instrument of the cell phones, as the means of clinical encounters between the doctor and the patient."

He continued, "In so doing, what you are doing is creating the doctor's virtual clinic and we are also virtualising the doctor."

Vijay Sachet is responsible for the technology behind the app, which allows users to video-conference with a doctor; schedule a virtual appointment or go into office to meet with the doctor physically. Doctors can also electronically send prescriptions to their patients which can then be taken to a pharmacy to be filled.

 

Rights and confidentiality

 

"This particular tool, Doctor on Call, is very rigorously encrypted to protect the rights and confidentiality between patients and their doctors," Davidson said. "It is changing the process of health care fundamentally, because it is giving the patient greater access to the services of doctors from anywhere in the world."

Davidson, who has worked in both the private and public health-care system, believes the app, which is available free of cost to both patients and doctors, will prove more cost-effective and efficient for persons than if they were to go in office to see a doctor.

"The cost to the patient of the service is actually going to be about less than half to come in and see a doctor, which means that more people are going to be able to see the doctor in their own homes, taking the pressure off the health service system, especially the hospital outpatient system and even the primary care," Davidson said. "So it is a support to the existing system and giving universal access to patients."

The veteran doctor said several user acceptance test and alpha and beta testing have been carried out and they are now fully published for production. Persons will also be required to pay remotely, using debit and credit cards, with the cost differing from doctor to doctor.

"When the patient is going to engage the services of his doctor, the patient will see what it is going to cost," Davidson pointed out. "And if the patient thinks the cost is too expensive, the patient has the option to go and find another doctor."

ryon.jones@gleanerjm.com