Like most guys these days who enjoy keeping round-the-clock tabs on their fitness levels, you probably know the unique pleasure of getting that late-in-the-afternoon wrist-tracker or smartphone message: Goal achieved! You’ve walked 10,000 steps. Great job! Though hardly the same level of satisfaction that follows a good four-miler or an hour with the free weights, it’s nevertheless a nice little confidence boost.
But considering the pace at which technology is advancing, haven’t you also found yourself wondering why all these cutting-edge digital tools can’t do just a little more than count calories, steps taken, and heartbeats per minute? Say, beam a doctor into your living room in an emergency? Let your smartphone double as a nutritionist, therapist, or even medical specialist—or, better yet, all three?
Well, get ready for some good news, because that’s all I’ve got for you from here on in.
There are ways to avoid the doctor’s office.
Recently, my wife had a chest rash we were concerned about but didn’t consider at all life threatening. So instead of embarking on an expensive and time-consuming trip to the ER, I fired up a new app—Doctor on Demand—and paid $40 to get her a 15-minute consultation with a nearby physician. It was amazingly easy: Through a FaceTime-like interaction, the doctor took a look at the rash and diagnosed it as ringworm, and had a prescription automatically sent to my local pharmacy. In fact, with its 1,400 doctors available 24/7, Doctor on Demand is an excellent way to treat many simple infirmities, such as muscle sprains, sports injuries, sore throats, and flu symptoms.
If you don’t feel like beaming the doctor into the room live, you can text, too. Just download HealthTap, an app founded at Stanford that connects you with real doctors for free. And don’t worry: There are 73,000 doctors on the company’s roster, so someone will get back to you fast. You can even take it to the next level and share photos or test results, and pay a small fee (starting at $19.99) to get an answer, more insight into a condition, or just a second opinion. Obviously I wouldn’t advise using HealthTap for severe chest pains—but you get the idea.
And if you really want to avoid your regular checkup, consider making a bigger investment: Smart, new, easy-to-use blood pressure and heart-health monitors from companies like iHealth (starting at $80) and MocaCare ($149, see page 28 for our report) bring the doctor’s office home. iHealth also has a $70 Wireless Pulse Oximeter to track your blood oxygen saturation and, for diabetes sufferers, a $30 glucometer that reads your test strips and records blood sugar levels.