The Doctor App – Just Say, “Ah,” and Fog Up Your Phone

Our healthcare system showed signs of dementia last week when BlueCross BlueShield launched the LiveHealth Online App — when you can’t get an appointment with your local doctor.

Just download the app from the iTunes App or Google Play store and get a live video chat with a tiny flat screen doctor from Walla Walla, Washington or other places you usually don’t go.

Yes, you can have an intimate doctor-patient chat with an avatar in a white coat for virtually the same cost (or lower) of visiting your doctor on earth. Because healthcare isn’t impersonal enough.

On Wednesday, I answered the phone and spoke to a Stepford robo-caller from Blue Cross Blue Shield. She was more animated than the usual telemarketing robot, and chatty, too.

In fact, she wouldn’t shut up. “Blah, blah, blah. LiveHealth Online is a new covered benefit of Empire BlueCross BlueShield…No waiting. No people coughing at you…like in the waiting room of a real doctor’s office.”

I hate getting sprayed in the face with a gaggle of germs.

More blah, blah, blah and robo-call gal said, “…. And the first 500 people that sign up get a free Amazon Gift Card.”

Sign me up Scotty or is that beam me up?

I suppose a Smartphone doctor would be less creepy than the doctor my medical group schedules you with when the other doctors aren’t available. During my last physical with him, when he asked if I needed him to do a breast exam, I said, “If you want to.”


At that moment, I would have preferred to see his face smushed against a screen.

I don’t think teledoctoring is a state-of-the-art service. It’s more of a state-of-a-broken healthcare system, an insurers creative attempt to cut back services in a shiny new way.

I mean really. What can be accomplished with a virtual face-to-face appointment without a stethoscope? How do you give a urine sample?

What if your appointment is for an ear problem and the connection drops? Your “I can’t hear you, Doctor” may be misinterpreted as an ear blockage. Then you’ll have to fly out to Walla Walla, Washington for the doctor to shove a light in your ear.

It’s hard to get a good shot of an ear with an iPhone. Getting a flattering selfie is challenging enough.

And how does a Smartphone doctor get a throat culture for Strep? Do you lick the screen?

As BlueCross touts ”…the telehealth service is…a two-way, face-to-face video chat with a doctor who can both diagnose and treat them, along with their family members for non-emergency conditions such as the flu, cold, strep throat and ear infections.” – HealthTechZone

You know how I feel about ear problems.

Frankly, I think BlueCross BlueShield should have their head examined. Just hold the phone over your head and snap a picture. My telediagnosis — shit for brains.

What do you think about the new telehealth service?

When you get a moment, please check out my latest piece at HuffPost/50, “How to Say Goodbye to Summer.”

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  1. Oh dear. I thought the app was more like a genie’s lamp. You rub it and a doctor appears. Hee Hee.

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  2. Ron says:

    “I mean really. What can be accomplished with a virtual face-to-face appointment without a stethoscope? How do you give a urine sample? Pee on the phone? And how does a Smartphone doctor get a throat culture for Strep? Do you lick the screen?”

    Lauren, that’s HILARIOUS!

    If can you believe this, I don’t have a Smartphone or an iPhone or even a cell phone. People look at me like I’m an alien when I tell them that because they find it hard to believe that I can live without a cell phone.

    I spend so much time on the Internet as it is, that I don’t want the Internet with me when I’m away from my computer. Also, I don’t want people to able to get in touch with me via phone when I’m away from home. I rather them just leave me a voice mail on my home phone and I’ll call them back.

    I am so not a phone person.

    GREAT post, my friend!
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    • Lauren

      Thank you, Ron.

      You are a smart man for having a dumb phone. I had a dumb phone for years until my husband bought me a Smartphone for my last birthday. I feel plugged into the Internet all the time. It’s very disconcerting. So I keep my phone in the kitchen…out of reach.

      Hope you had a great weekend. Have a terrific week.

  3. Shelley

    Ahhhhhhhh am gagging thinking of peering at all those open mouths. Another great idea. :)
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  4. I have a Nokia flip phone circa 2005. That probably tells you something about my interest in apps. Although, being able to put the phone up to the radio to identify a song sounds kind of cool to me. As for this app, yes. You should be able to pee on it. :)
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  5. Phil

    This is awesome! I can’t wait for the new ap where we can perform dentistry or brain surgery on ourselves with a virtual doctor giving us the step by step instructions!
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  6. Brenda

    Lauren, I’m not sure how you really feel about the new app! :-) I hadn’t seen this bit of wonder. I’m not sure how this would work for most, but there are those who will love it because they don’t have to take time from their day to go to the doctor.
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  7. Jayden says:

    Wow, It sounds good to me. I’m sure that this would be handy for the patients as well as doctor to manage their appointment. Looking forward to review on it.

  8. Subodh Gupta says:

    the concept of this app is great and so is this article!
    However, as a patient I would prefer to meet the doc in person.

  9. I have used this app, but it is nothing compared to the websites that allow users to chat with doctors and ask about their medical issues. There is a big room for improvement in this app.
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  10. Sarah

    Definitely agree with your review… good idea, but very poor execution. I think doctor visits are something that shouldn’t be messed with. Love Phil’s idea about DIY procedures… got a good laugh out of it. :)
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  11. Wow, this is very interesting. Thanks for sharing on this “doctor app” and your thoughts and feelings. I’m interested to see if this works out for them or just causes more harm than good. Keep us posted if you find out more!
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