Feature Health and Technology

Uber for healthcare

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i771 (Published 12 February 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i771
  1. Nigel Hawkes, freelance journalist, London, UK

New services allowing people to summon a doctor from their smartphone could see the return of home visits. Nigel Hawkes reports

Is it time to reinvent the home visit? In the NHS they have been in steady decline for decades and now account for fewer than one in 25 general practitioner consultations. In the US the rate of house calls is even lower—around one in every 100 consultations—but app happy entrepreneurs backed by venture capitalists believe that they can turn back the clock.

The past two years have seen the emergence of several small companies claiming to be “the Uber of healthcare.” Just as impatient urbanites can summon a taxi via the Uber app on their smartphone, worried parents can now call a doctor to treat their child’s earache, or office workers order a flu jab at their desk as readily as a pizza.

“Everything a primary care doctor can do we can do,” says Renee Dua, a kidney specialist and founder of Heal, a west coast start-up company that has treated 2000 patients …

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