Patience is a virtue? Tell that to people sitting around, biding their time in a doctor's waiting room. "Its frustrating, because I could be doing things at work" says waiting patient Sam Drusen. But Sam's days of waiting around may soon be over... or at least diminished...if his medical office decides to use a new software program designed to alert patients when their doctor is behind schedule. It was developed by a Chicago area physician Vishal Mehta. "I can, from my user's portal...enter how many minutes we are running late and basically the patients can check online from any mobile platform, like an iphone...any web enabled platform, blackberry, computer, anything that can access the web" Mehta says. The concept is relatively simple: You log onto a website and put in the date and time of your appointment. You can get updates to your mobile phone with a color code. Green=on time. Yellow=running a little late. Red=very late. You'd know when to show up for the appointment, and the doc's waiting room wouldn't be stuffed with impatient patients.
While many people I asked said they liked the idea "I would love something to keep me from staring at the walls for ages once you've been dumped in the exam room" says Cynthia Canty, others are skeptical. "I guess it's not a bad idea, but surely would take some coordination/cooperation from administrative staff and the doctor to make it work", says Tim Maley. "I don't think this would be fool proof...what if the doctor catches up, patients relying on this app show up late and the flow is messed up again?" says Tatiana Czaplicki An oncologist we spoke to said she thinks doctor's schedules change too rapidly to adequately keep up with the application "We have lots of little crises all the time, patients have problems that are unexpected they interfere with our schedule all the time, so its very hard to keep on track", says Dr. Krystyna Kiel.
Doctor's offices that want to use the application will have to pay Mehta and his investors $50 a month. Hospitals would pay $300. Mehta says many physicians and medical clinics around the country have already expressed interest.