app, doctor, health care, dermatologist, therapist, doctor visits, technology, medical, medical technology

The New House Call

App makers are betting that less hassle equals more health care.

There's something so analog about doctors' visits: The too-public sign-in sheet at reception, filling out a clipboard full of forms, killing time in a waiting room more packed than an Apple Store Genius Bar. All that seems to be steeped in medical tradition. The part that's being digitized is the need for a hands-on visit at all. The new norm for everyday ailments may become connecting with a physician or other health professional via apps.

It’s the way of future in medicine, says Robin Berzin, M.D., a New York-based functional medicine practitioner with experience in health technology (for example, she helped create the physician messaging app Cureatr). She now sees patients virtually. “Healthcare should meet us where we are and 99 percent of your health is determined outside the doctor's office,” Berzin says. “These technologies also mean many more people will have access to better care across the world, and access to doctors' expertise won't be limited by geography.”

There are potential downsides, she says. Virtual visits can be impersonal; doctors don't know as much about you if you're "seeing" them for the first time, plus they have strict time limits, which could precipitate a less in-depth analysis of what’s really ailing you. But if the idea of seeing a doctor without coming out from under the covers sounds dreamy, these five apps can provide everything from dermatologist evaluations to strep throat cures to therapy sessions.