Business news from the Fredericksburg region.
App may please doctors and their patients
A NEW APP for physicians may spare patients anxiety and doctors’ wives frustration.
I know it could have saved me from some anxious hours in the hospital.
Way, way back in 2006, before the iPhone, before the iPad, and before apps that made flatulence sounds were invented, I thought I might be having a heart attack.
I was pretty sure I wasn’t. But I wasn’t taking any chances.
A few years earlier, I had been in two bad car accidents in six months. I was hit from behind at high speed once when a woman pulled out in front of me and I slammed on the brakes, then again when I was sitting at a red light. I had surgery to fuse three levels of vertebrae.
People with injuries affecting the spinal cord often have phantom pain. If it’s your elbow, you ignore it and it goes away in a few hours. If you have sharp pain in your chest and left arm, you don’t wait to see what happens.
That’s where it was that day in 2006. I don’t like to bother people, so I got up from my desk in the newsroom and headed for the parking lot. As I left the building, then op-ed editor Jim Lakely, a friend of mine, said, “Where you going, Mike?”
“To the hospital,” I said matter-of-factly. “I may be having a heart attack.”
Jim, a compassionate conservative, looked stunned and said something like, “Have a good one.”
Anyway, I drove myself. This is not a good thing to do if you are in need of emergency medical attention. I do not advise it. Someone could be seriously hurt. Worse, there could be an embarrassing story in the press. Ask the former secretary of commerce.
Luckily, I made it to the emergency room without rear-ending a nun.
I had to wait three days for a stress test. I took the test first thing in the morning and the nurses said the doctor would be by to sign my release papers soon. Five o’clock rolled around and a nurse came in and asked if I wanted to order dinner. “But I’m going home,” I said. The nurse grimaced, cast her eyes downward and turned away. Another nurse came in. “I’m going home, right?” I said, feeling a little panic. She squirmed and bit her lip.
This did not seem to be
a good sign.
An hour later, I was released, without ever seeing the doctor.
My theory: He was out on the golf course and the nurses didn’t want to tell me that.
That’s where the new app, DocBookMD, comes in. It allows doctors to securely check encrypted x–rays and test results on the go. Let’s say the doctor is on the ninth hole at the country club and a DocBookMD alert beeps on his iPhone with my stress test results. After playing only two or three more holes and hitting the beer cart, the doctor glances at my test results and releases me by tapping his iPhone. This spares me eating hospital meatloaf for dinner and possibly having a real heart attack. I’m not sure if the doctor can then bill you from the beer cart using the app.
Dr. Tracey Haas and Dr. Tim Gueramy, a married couple, developed the app because their first wedding anniversary was interrupted, It was one of those bothersome situations like a pesky patient keeling over and being taken to the hospital in an ambulance. Then the hospital pages you—even if you’re having dinner at a fancy restaurant paid for by pesky patients!
“When you’re a doctor, you expect that your plans will be cut short,” Dr. Gueramy said in the release.
DocBookMD reduces hospital interruptions that cause doctors’ dinners to get cold.
In the release, Dr. Haas recalled that her husband was paged and had to leave the restaurant to go to the hospital “right as the appetizers were being served.”
And it didn’t even turn out to be a life or death situation, she said. Just a stupid patient like me who was worried about dying.
“If he’d been able to get the x–ray on his iPhone, he would have been able to finish dinner with me,”
Dr. Haas said in the release.
And so DocBookMD was created, and it was good.
Because of it, today I could go home without my doctor leaving the golf course. And now doctors all over the world can keep looking at their smartphones while their wives are talking during dinner and come across as noble healers instead of inattentive, self-centered jerks.
I think I’m going to invent a SnarkyColumnist app to prevent false snark alerts from interrupting happy hour.
Technology is a wonderful thing.
Michael Zitz: 540/846-5163