There are so many business idea opportunities out there, but none of them is more challenging than online health consulting service. Health is a not just a matter of preference, everyone cares about it. For that reason, people are very selective and careful in selecting type of health services they can get. On the other hand, medical professionals are also in need of better tool to increase their capacity in delivering health services to more people, especially health consultancy.
In 2013, there were around 15000 medical apps (David Lee Scher MD, 2013) but only few of them were successful. Apple created a healthcare app called iDR 24/7 with the purpose of providing health consulting service at any time, however consulting with professional doctor (in USA) charges user some amount of money. Other examples are HealthTap and iTriage that are available in iOS and Android. Both of them allow you to reach high number of professional doctors and yet provide other advanced features such as daily health tips, smart symptom diagnosis, or even searching for nearest hospital. Likewise iDR 24/7, there is small fee for a doctor’s advice. Last example of famous health-related app is Urgent Care (Android and iOS) which is focused on delivering health services from professional medicals at any emergency moment.
The next question is: why so many health apps fail? In providing health advice and consultancy, good enough is never enough, patients always demand the best possible service when it comes to their health, whereas doctor only wants a tool that helps them simplifying all the health service delivery process such as prescribing medicine, setting up new arrangements and archiving the records of the patient. Beautiful design and sophisticated feature are merely additional as long as the basic functionality works. Thus, involving medical experts in the platform development itself is very important.
In the era of internet, people have access to medical information on internet even without seeing the professionals (doctors). However, for more complex situation, they still need assistance from the experts and thus the implementation of online health consultancy service will help. Not only doctors can provide more timely assistance, they can also reach people who cannot afford medical cost, especially for consultancy. Ball and Lillis (2000) predicted E-health services may educate normal people with basic medical information (general information, disease management, and clinical decision support), support the communication between doctors and patient, and increase administrative efficiency (e.g reduced paper used for medicine prescription, form, charts, etc).
In conclusion, doctors and patients are the main customers of this digital platform. Doctors benefit from the increased capacity in delivering consultancy services whereas customers will have more access to health advice service easily in timely manner. Through collaboration with medical professionals, developers (for website or mobile app) should be able to create a platform in which interaction between physicians and patients can be supported flexibly in lower cost. As health is particular concern of everybody, the advancement of internet technology will drive high demand for online health service in the next 5-10 years.
Ball, M. J., & Lillis, J. (2001). E-health: transforming the physician/patient relationship. International journal of medical informatics, 61(1), 1-10.
Belle, Mika (2013). No waiting rooms, no copay: 6 apps to get a doctor’s advice. Retrieved from: http://www.techhive.com/article/2038659/no-waiting-rooms-no-copay-6-apps-to-get-a-doctors-advice.html
David Lee Scheer, MD (2013). 5 Reasons why mobile health apps fail. Retrieved from : http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2013/02/5-reasons-mobile-health-apps-fail.html