'Doctor on Demand' app gives medical attention without wait time

Popularity of online medical care grows

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

In fact, the average wait time across the country to get into 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 a new app.

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

So Harrison decided to use Doctor on Demand, an app she downloaded to her iPhone.

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

Harrison says 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 3-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.

Dr. Jennifer Thielhelm, is a pediatrician with Physician Associate. She said she 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.

Dr. 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.

All valid concerns, so Local 6 asked Dr. Pat Basu, Chief Medical Officer for Doctor on Demand.

"We are far more regulated than going into a physical location medicine," Basu said.

The app is regulated by a few agencies including the FDA, prescribing guidelines by the DEA and HIPAA.

Basu says doctors use two main skills to diagnose conditions-- looking and listening to you using a video visit it 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 says 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.

Already half a million patients use Doctor on Demand, which launched 8 months ago.

According to Basu, the best use for Doctor on Demand are urgent care diagnosis like sinusitis, bronchitis, and a child with a rash, pink eye, cold sores and urinary tract infection.

Doctor on demand 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 2nd diabetes refill or 2nd high blood pressure refill we will politely give you instructions on what to do but say you need to go in person see your doctor for this before you can use our service."

Harrison says what she liked the best was, "the convenience and the cost, if you can get what you need over a phone call, why not."

There is a $40 fee to speak to a doctor and is available in 47 states including right here in Florida.

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