Smartphone app lets doctor see what's bothering you [Sun Sentinel :: ]
(South Florida Sun Sentinel (FL) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 09--Dr. Ariel Soffer was on an airplane when one of his patients was desperately trying to reach him.
Through his clinical photography app, his patient was able to text the doctor a photo of her leg after recent varicose vein surgery.
Soffer had connected to the app through the plane's Wi-Fi and was able to reassure the patient that what she was experiencing after the surgery was normal. That put her at ease and avoided a costly trip to the hospital.
The doctor-patient communication was possible through AppwoRx, a Boca Raton company founded by Soffer, a internist who practices in South Florida.
"I believe one day patients will walk out of a [doctor's] office with two medication prescriptions and three app prescriptions," he said.
Soffer and Chris Cabell, the company's co-founder and chief technology officer, have a patent pending on the clinical photographic record-keeping system.
For security and privacy, the photos taken by patients are removed from their phones when they're uploaded to the cloud and stored, said Jim Clark, chief executive officer for AppwoRx.
Dr. Ron Bush, a vascular surgeon who practices in Palm Beach County, said he has found AppwoRx a useful tool in getting health insurer's approval for surgery.
Photos before and after surgery involving the arteries and veins also serve as documentation for patients who "often don't remember how they looked before," he said.
Using AppwoRX, patients don't have to worry that photos of their body parts could end up on Facebook, Soffer and Clark say.
In his practice, photography is invaluable in making a correct diagnosis, Soffer said. "I'm more likely to misjudge with my eye than a photo," he said.
Clark said the app also offers education to patients and the ability to share information with a family member when making an important decision about health care. Patients can use the app with their own iPhone or iPad or any Android smartphone.
The company is working on a special project to integrate the app into a South Florida pediatric hospital's system. The hospital plans to use the app to coordinate care between the physicians in the ER and those on call, such as a surgeon.
AppwoRx has annual revenues of more than $300,000, Clark said. He expects that number to climb to a half-million and beyond as distribution grows. He said several hundred doctors, physician's assistants and nurse practitioners across the United States as well as in Europe and South America are using the app, which costs $70 per physician a month.
He is talking with health insurers that are interested in the app to increase communication between physicians and patients, which can reduce healthcare costs through fewer emergency runs to the hospital.
The company has six employees and uses several independent product designers and developers.
Clark was originally an investor in AppwoRx and was asked to be CEO last year. He previously founded SoftAid, which grew to 50 employees and was sold in 2004. Two years later, he helped launch Visionary HealthWare, which develops lab information management systems. That company grew to more than 300 employees and $30 million in revenue before being sold in 2010.
AppwoRx has raised about half of the $500,000 the company is seeking for further expansion, Clark said.
Clark became interested in AppwoRX after an experience with his own son, who was bitten by a bulldog when he was 7 years old. Clark said his son had a great doctor at a Broward ER, but he wonders what could have happened if there was a less-experienced medical professional on call that night.
Clark believes AppwoRx will improve physicians' practices and help patients. The app is about "getting that expert the right visual to make the right treatment," he said.
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