One bit of advice I received from my high school basketball coach which I will never forget was, if you think you are going to get into a fight, make sure you throw the first punch. He learned this important lesson while traveling as a young man in Spain, when he was suddenly confronted by a guy shouting at him in a foreign language, who came out swinging and broke Tom’s nose.
Left with little choice but to find the closest clinic willing to treat his very painful wound, he ended up in a less than stellar facility. I will never forget him telling me what it was like undergoing impromptu surgery and in agonizing pain, and totally unable to communicate with his doctor.
DestinationDoc (@DestinationDoc) is a new iOS app developed as a collaboration between physicians in the UK and a San Francisco-based developer which provides international travelers with a trusted, curated list of the best doctors and health care in the world’s most traveled cities. If only Tom had an iPhone loaded with Destination Doc perhaps he would have a less fearsome memory of that unfortunate day !
The Destination Doc team is looking to use the London Olympics as a proof of concept and then branch out to other global cities. They are targeting 20 new cities in the next 6-9 months, and if all goes well 60 cities within 18 months.
“The predicted influx of travelers to London also facilitated the opportunity to garner traction for what we feel is a clear area of unmet need,” Destination Doc co-founder Pramod Achan told me when we spoke recently. “Travelers with acute medical problems that are not life threatening or flare ups of chronic conditions, have no access to unbiased good clinical care. They sit in an unknown environment at the mercy of a hotel concierge or ever more austere insurance company back home causing anxiety for them as well as their loved ones back home. Equally all physicians aren’t the same, and you only have to ask a physician to recommend a doctor for a particular problem to notice he or she never says ‘go to anyone’! We put the unmet need for the traveler alongside the insider knowledge of the medical fraternity to generate this app, that initially serves London but is a concept that is scaleable to all of the globe’s cities and beyond.”
I think Destination Doc is onto something, and if they are able to use the Olympics to get some momentum I think they could have a viable, perhaps even quite valuable business. There are millions of individuals who travel internationally for business who constantly run the risk of contracting an acute medical condition only to find they are helpless when seeking care.
The concierge at your hotel should not be the only option when seeking a referral to a high quality hospital or specialist.
The home page of the app offers users a few different options depending on the type of health care or medical need. This includes an emergency button that automatically connects to local emergency services, which could prove useful for American tourists in London because dialing 911 won’t do you any good.
One aspect of the app I found particularly interesting was the travel tips section, which provided a ton of interesting and slightly humorous information about London. I asked co-founder Manoj Ramachandran about the travel tips section and he told me, “What we wanted to do, in addition to connecting patients and travelers in need to excellent healthcare, was to provide tips on surviving in the city you are visiting, but with a more lighthearted, yet realistic but slightly irreverent outlook.”
Users worried about the quality of the referrals will be reassured by the comprehensive physician profiles which include information on each specialist’s background, including honors and awards and eventually peer review.
Destination Doc recently demoed their app at a San Francisco event alongside some of the biggest names in digital health including 100plus, Cake Health, Scanadu, WellnessFX and others. They also recently won best novel app pitch at the AppsJunction Meetup pitch competition in London.
Check out the brief and slightly humorous film below to see how you can use Destination Doc to find a physician for your tummy trouble even before your plane lands in London. Please share this story with anyone you know attending the London Olympics, because Destination Doc is truly the must have app for Olympic-goers.