Thousands of apps are now out there to turn your tablet or smartphone into a pocket doctor; for example one astonishing trick can take your pulse just by you looking at the phone’s camera.
Another Swiss app launched last year allowed you to send photos of any skin condition to a dermatologist, who would then prescribe treatment and call back.
That got some thinking in Berne, where around 80 doctors have now set themselves up as a phone consultation surgery. They think they can handle 400,000 people a year.
“The way patients get their primary health care is going to change, because the first generation of mobile-phone aware patients is coming; comfortable with the idea of over-the-phone medical care, and cutting out the actual doctor’s visit,” says Medi24’s Bernard Teyssier.
Sixty percent of calls allow patients to look after themselves once they have had specialist advice. This idea of assisted self-treatment is gaining ground.
More and more applications are being found as we head into this medical revolution; diabetics can now measure their glucose levels with a phone app.
But there are risks warn the doctors. These are all useful health tools, but they will never replace the specialists, and like any tool, they will have to be used properly to work effectively.