Dodgy tummy? Travelling? New app is just what the doctor ordered

It is the very last thing we want to think about when we go on holidays – what exactly to do in the event of ill health.

New app can put you in the right direction for medical treatment while travelling.

New app can put you in the right direction for medical treatment while travelling. Image by Justin Taylor / CC BY 2.0

Now, one company PokDok is hoping to build an international network of doctors, pharmacists and hospitals so that tourists are never too far from help.

PokDok, which was launched out of Helsinki in Finland earlier this year wants to make ‘travel more care free’ and let tourists get in control of their healthcare when abroad.

A view over Valletta, Malta. Image by Berit Watkin / CC BY 2.0

A view over Valletta, Malta. Image by Berit Watkin / CC BY 2.0

It is currently trialling its software on the island of Malta offering details on nearby hospitals, clinic, GP surgeries and pharmacies.

In a pilot study, they estimated that 1 in 30 travel days is spent searching for medical care as travellers fall ill and go looking for a doctor.

It is an all too familiar experience: stomach upsets from unfamiliar food, painful sunburn from catching too many rays, and the all too common problem of forgotten prescription medicine.

With PokDok, services are arranged according to how close they are and also help users get around the language barriers that can be so problematic while travelling.

The various health providers can also build up star ratings according to how helpful customers found them and over time ensuring the cream will rise to the top.

New app links travellers with medical treatment while on holidays.

New app links travellers with medical treatment while on holidays. Image by Duncan Hull / CC BY 2.0

Usefully, it offers opening hours, which can be a major source of cultural confusion for travellers when a particular day of the week might see most services shut or closing early.

A nifty feature of the app is a built-in connection service with local transport companies so that a taxi will bring you directly from your phone’s location to the doctor.

The free apps are available through the App Store and Google Play and next year the creators are hoping to roll out the service globally.

"You don’t have to be a computer wizard to use PokDok, register [online], download the app and you are a couple of clicks away from medical assistance," they said.

The people behind PokDok hope to build travel insurance into the service so that travellers can find out what they have cover for, or what type of bill they might be in danger of running up.

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