As smartphones become more powerful and more consumers feel comfortable using them, there is an upward trend in technologies being developed to take advantage of this.

The latest iterations of smartphones, including the iPhone 4S, come equipped with 8 megapixel cameras–powerful enough to take detailed pictures of wounds to send to doctors — a feature we wrote about before.

Because of this, new business endeavors are springing up to tap into this growth industry. Dr. Douglas Smith is one such entrepreneur who is banking on the potential of telemedicine.

Dr. Smith operates a solo family practice in Plymouth, and was a co-founder of MinuteClinic. MinuteClinics can be found in various CVS pharmacies, and provide non-critical, medical care for patients without the need for an appointment.

In his latest entrepreneurial venture, Dr. Smith is an investor and chief medical officer of Consult A Doctor, a company that operates a nationwide network of 300 licensed, board-certified doctors who are available 24 hours a day to consult and write basic prescriptions for patients via phone, e-mail or videoconference.

Consult A Doctor is based in Miami, Florida and has conducted more then 200,000 HIPAA compliant consultations over the past 6 years. The vision of Consult A Doctor  is to significantly contribute to the transformation of healthcare delivery and access by making their convenient, cost-effective and safe care telehealth options the recognized solution for payers, providers, patients and the employers and groups they work with. It has a 93% customer satisfaction rating, according to the website.

“More than 1,500 employers have signed up, including PepsiCo and window-shade maker Hunter Douglas, typically paying $1 or $2 a month per employee as part of a wellness package aimed at keeping a lid on health care costs. Consult A Doctor also is gaining ground with insurers. Independent brokers are selling the service as a way to differentiate one health plan from another, and as an add-on to travel insurance. Last year, Consult A Doctor took calls from Americans in 58 different countries.”

Interestingly, the company is getting ready to launch a couple additions to the Consult A Doctor lineup. The first is a telehealth platform aimed exclusively at helping hospitals and clinic workers get care. This service is not for the general public.  Additionally, by July, Consult A Doctor expects to introduce My Practice 24/7, which will be marketed to private-practice physicians who want to set up a service exclusively for their own patients.

CEO Wolf Shlagman believes the company is set for huge growth and justifies this by explaining that there is a long waiting list of doctors who want to be part of the company.  Additionally, health insurance companies are poised to take advantage of this technology as well. He explains,

“Every large self-insured employer in the next 12 to 36 months is going to have some tele-medicine offering as part of their plan design to members and employers.”

Source: Star Tribune