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Website takes the wait out of doctor visits

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Ever tire of playing the waiting game at the doctor’s office? A Lantana physician recently developed a website that will make seeking medical attention in a timely manner much, much easier.

Dr. Harvey Castro, an emergency room doctor at the Las Colinas Medical Center in Irving, created HealthCareWaitTime.com to allow patients to find out which hospitals and doctor’s offices are open at what times and just how long the wait time will be.

The site can be accessed online anytime or viewed on a smartphone web browser, and Castro said he came up with the idea after putting himself in his patient’s shoes.

“As a doctor, I started thinking about what would be a helpful tool for patients to have,” Castro said.

“I thought – what if a family practice doctor could post their wait time and let their patients know almost exactly how long they will have to wait.

“In the ER, I see a lot of patients that I feel just don’t know what other treatment options are available at a given time. I thought it would be great if a doctor could put on a website, ‘hey, I’m open until 8 tonight.’ Some of the medical issues that a patient has could require a simple remedy that could be fixed in a family practice office.”

Castro said so far, the response has been phenomenal.

“Everyone I’ve talked to really likes it,” Castro said. “Unfortunately, it is just me and my partner right now, and now it is just a matter of getting the word out. I think if the Flower Mound residents know that this exists, I hope they will come back and tell their doctors, ‘hey, why don’t you subscribe to this idea.’”

One of Castro’s first clients was Bartonville dentist, Dr. Robert Marye, who said he was pleased with the service.

“HealthCareWaitTime has been beneficial to my office in many ways. My office staff saves time by simply clicking a button to post a wait time rather than having to call patients and inform them over the phone. Also, patients really enjoy being able to see their wait time before they make it to our office,” said Marye.

Castro said a new feature that will make the website even easier to use is coming in the next few months.

“There is a little widget that works with every doctor,” Castro said. “So let’s say Dr. X says his wait time is 10 minutes. He can take that widget and put it on his own website, so they won’t even have to come to healthcarewaittime.com, they can just announce it on their own personal website.”

Castro said the site provides a way of making appointments online, as well as to take photos of, say a skin condition for example, and upload it onto the website where a doctor could log onto the site and get an idea of what it may be to determine if the patient needs to be seen.

The doctor said the idea is to drive down health care costs by creating more competition, and said he has a truly revolutionary goal for next year.

“I want to add a little ‘telemedicine’ feature on there where a doctor can log in, and you can actually see a doctor on the website,” Castro said.

Castro said there is also an iPhone app on the way.

This isn’t Castro’s first cool idea.  He has become a respected medical app developer over the past few years, building over 30 medical smartphone apps.

If the seeds for Castro’s ideas come from his training as a physician, they germinate in his active home life, where he has a constant source of inspiration and feedback.

Castro’s wife, a nurse and personal trainer, tests his ideas and gives him the “busy mom” perspective. He used his four kids, aged 2 years old through 9, to test out an app that helps children practice cursive writing. The smiling face of his five-year-old daughter is the icon for his Pedi Meds app, an app that calculates dosages for pediatricians. And his wife strikes a yoga pose for the icon of his Stress Index app, which asks 43 questions to gauge your stress level and then provides soothing and funny sounds, like a rain forest or a burp or a cheer, to relax you.

Castro loves that emergency medicine doesn’t limit him to a single specialty but lets him find solutions to all kinds of emergencies, from cardiac to bones and brain trauma: “I enjoyed just the different challenges that the specialty itself brings. You basically have to think out of the box.” There is no danger, he says, that he’ll become more interested in app developing than doctoring: “If you told me that I became a millionaire overnight, would I give up ER? No.”

Castro said he hopes that his latest idea will help people save time as well as money.

“My end product goal would be that people can go to the website for everything,” Castro said.  “Whether its heath care questions or whatever the case may be. I also hope that it lowers health care costs because, sometimes in the ER, we get 20 people that come in and only a handful are really, really sick. This way, they could see all of their options for care on one website. Hopefully, this will help more evenly distribute the demand out there.”

Visit www.healthcarewaittime.com for more information.

 

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