New Service Connects You to Doctors When Traveling the World
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There are few things more frustrating, irritating and terrifying than becoming sick while traveling. Whether you’re only on the other side of the United States, or in a third-world country with non-English speakers, finding access to competent medical care can be a challenge. The recently launched Doctor in Your Pocket service gives you the ability to be connected to doctors almost anywhere you travel in the world. Founder Dr. Marcel Muenster, a John Hopkins-trained physician, reached out to the TPG team, and we decided to take his new service for a test run.
Doctor In Your Pocket
In exchange for paying for either a 7-day ($4.45), monthly ($16.95) or annual subscription ($41.45), the website allows you the ability to search for doctors in the vetted provider network and schedule appointments either in the doctor’s office, in your home or vacation residence or virtually.
The most impressive thing I saw about the service is that the Doctor in Your Pocket team meets with each doctor placed in its network in order to verify who it’s referring customers to. According the map of providers on the website, there are still quite a few holes to fill, but regardless of where you’re located you can always schedule a virtual appointment to speak with a doctor over text or video chat.
You can request a doctor who speaks any of 45 languages and choose from one of 14 specialists including dentists if you know the nature of your medical condition. Or, request a general practitioner if you aren’t sure what’s wrong.
Testing The Service
I put the site through a few paces, searching for all sorts of specialists in different countries to see what results were populated. I found a few trends after searching several countries:
- Even if a location is listed as being serviced, that may mean it only has virtual doctors available. I’d imagine they would often tell you to try and find a doctor where you are located if any symptoms are cause for concern. You’d then be essentially in the same position you were before. I found these results when I searched Belize and Vietnam and then many other searches based on my own upcoming trips.
- Many locations have a service named “House Call Service” appear as the only result — this looks like a third-party service that has its own network of providers. You’re given a phone number to call to a doctor’s office, but no name. You can also send a message to request that a doctor give you a call, though I’d imagine that wouldn’t be much assurance if you’re waiting and wondering if the doctor got your message and when they would call.
- There are quite a few locations with physically located doctors, their contact info and office address, and even past reviews from patients.
- There are several international cities with doctors physically located in the city. This would be tremendously helpful in places like Ghana, Accra and Dubai where the the Doctor in Your Pocket network is extensive.
- Many doctors listed as having virtual appointments have very limited hours available, often only a few hours a week.
Once you find a doctor, you can schedule an appointment over the phone directly with the doctor’s office, or request the doctor contact you via text, phone call or video chat. Google maps is also integrated into the site so it can give directions to the doctor’s office.
For many travelers, it’s an easy decision to spend $10 for the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have an avenue — either virtual or in person — to a doctor when you’re abroad. You’re still responsible for paying for any services rendered by the doctor; the subscription fee is only for getting you in contact with a doctor. If you have any questions, a 24/7 online concierge for Doctor in Your Pocket is available to help.
What precautions do you take for medical emergencies before traveling?
Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.
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