Telemedicine

LSU ISDS professor James Davis is using a new strategy to help patients get a diagnosis and prescription without leaving the house.

Davis has started using telemedicine, which is real-time communication between the medical professional and patient via audio or video chat.

Davis partnered with Vishal Vasanji, a University alumnus, to create “Relief,” a smartphone app that allows users to connect with a medical professional over video chat to help get a diagnosis and prescription.

“Think of it like Uber for medical needs,” Davis said.

Davis said the app is built for people who do not want to go through the hassle at an urgent care clinic or the ER. Wait periods in the ER and urgent care can sometimes last for hours, not to mention the time it takes to drive there and back. “Relief” users can be connected with a nurse practitioner without leaving the house with the average wait time under three minutes, Davis said.

Furthermore, physicians’ offices typically close around 5-6 p.m. and urgent care clinics close around 7-9 p.m., while “Relief” is a 24/7 service.

Davis said the app is especially made for sick people who already have a good idea what is wrong with them and what they need. For example, if someone exhibits flu symptoms during flu season and they know they did not get the flu shot that year, they have a pretty good idea what they need.

“We’re a relatively savvy population,” Davis said. “Talking to health care providers, they found that people help you diagnose them and kind of know what’s wrong with them from previous experience.”

“Relief” utilizes nurse practitioners instead of medical doctors and physician assistants to diagnose users and prescribe medicine. Nurse practitioners are perfectly qualified and certified by the state of Louisiana to prescribe and diagnose.

Because there is no in-person appointment, certain people fear that telemedicine could lead to misdiagnosis, or users faking pain to get narcotics. However, “Relief” does not allow narcotics to be prescribed even if the patient requests it. Although about 90 percent of calls end with a prescription, Davis said people should go to a doctor in person if they believe something serious is wrong with them, or if they feel they need treatment rather than just a prescription.

“We’re looking to treat the general aches and pains, ailments and infections,” Davis said.

Davis said in the future he hopes to add more features like letting users request certain nurse practitioners.

“Relief” is free in the Apple app store and Google Play. Users must fill out a form about their medical history, allergies and other pertinent information.

Then, for $39.95, users can be connected with a nurse practitioner through the video chat on their phone.

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