Medicine is one field that is poised to change dramatically thanks to devices like the iPhone and iPad. Not only will doctors be using iOS devices to control medical equipment like ultrasounds, but they will also be using tablets and smartphones to interact with their patients. Here are five apps that are paving the way, making it easier for patients to seek medical advice from physicians and on their own.
Urgent Care by GreatCall [iPhone; US$3.99 per call]
Urgent Care provides you with round-the-clock access to a registered nurse who can consult a physician as needed. Similar to the other physician support app, the doctor can provide medical advice, diagnose a condition and prescribe medicine as needed. The app also includes a symptom checker and medical dictionary for personal use. It is backed by Great Call, the same folks who are behind the Jitterbug phone for senior citizens.
Ask a Doctor [iOS Universal; Calls start at $17.99]
Ask a Doctor provides access to a physician 24/7. Not only can you call directly with your questions, but you also can upload lab reports, X-rays and other images needed to help in a diagnosis. The service also includes specialists, but those calls cost $34.99.
Teladoc [iPhone; Pricing varies, starts around $39]
Teladoc provides access to doctors and pediatricians via phone or online video consultations. Adopted by several big-name hospitals, the app can be used to diagnose and prescribe medicine for common ailments like the flu, bronchitis, poison ivy, UTI and more. Pricing varies, but a hospital like Beth Israel in Boston charges $39 per consult. You can request a receipt for reimbursement if your medical plan supports these calls.
Doctor on Demand [iPhone; $40 for 15-minute consult]
Doctor on Demand is the latest entrant into the online medical advice market. The app allows patients to make a video call to a health care professional skilled in pediatrics, family practice, internal medicine or ER. Unlike its competition, Doctor on Demand is limited in availability -- doctors are only available from 7 AM to 11 PM and the app services customers in 15 states. Overseen by former White House Fellow Dr. Pat Basu, the service is expected to expand in the coming year.
WebMD for the iPad [iPad; Free]
If you want medical advice, but don't want to pay for a mobile consult, then you can check out WebMD for the iPad. The app includes a symptom checker and first aid essentials that'll walk you through treating minor injuries. There's also a medicine database and longer articles on medical conditions that are reviewed by physicians.