May 2011

The Doctor App

by Enette Ngoei EyeWorld Contributing Editor

The makers of the popular Eye Handbook app have developed an app to help doctors spread the word about their practice and more

In today's digital world, if your business doesn't have an online address, or in cyber terms, a URL, it basically doesn't exist, said

Vinay A. Shah, M.D., Kresge Eye Institute, Detroit, and a co-founder of the smartphone and web application maker Cloud Nine Development.

In the near future, however, the team at Cloud Nine predicts that with the multitude of apps being created and downloaded every day, personalized apps will soon take over the role of establishing a business's presence.

Apps are much more user friendly than websites, Dr. Shah said, and in public places like airport terminals, more people can be seen glued to their smartphones than their laptops.

“I think more people are going to be using their smartphones or devices that are smaller than a laptop. It makes complete sense that as physicians we would like to have a presence in our patients' pocket,” he said.

Thus, Cloud Nine Development, formed by a group of ophthalmologists, came up with the Doctor App. Launched at the American Academy of Ophthalmology in October 2010 in Chicago, it's a custom-built application that when downloaded for free, allows patients or referring doctors access to an incredible amount of information about a practice including the physician's history and credentials, patient education material, the staff at the clinic, opening hours, and contact information. Because the app is GPS-enabled, it allows the user to easily map out a route to the clinic and start driving.

The app's utility list doesn't stop there. Patients can get instant access to everything from scheduling appointments to requesting refills, according to customer

Brad H. Feldman M.D., Philadelphia Eye Associates. “The Doctor App is putting the tools to interact with our office staff literally in our patients' hands,” he said. “Now our patients can review the clinical trials that we are advertising, scan through the services we offer, and then with a push of a button on their phones, make the call that brings them back to our office.”

In addition, the Doctor App can allow for quicker referrals.

“Our phone center can get busy during certain times of the day and I was searching for an iPhone application that my referring doctors could use to send patient contact information directly to me without the risk of being put on hold or being sent to voicemail,” said customer Peter W. DeBry, M.D., Wellish Vision Institute, Las Vegas.

Always on the lookout for ways to develop the high-tech image of his practice for the best patient experience, Dr. DeBry said that when he was introduced to the Doctor App, he immediately saw the potential benefits of having this application installed on as many patients' and referring doctors' phones as he could.

Setting it up

Physicians can build their own Doctor App at for the introductory price of $999 (plus $34.99 per month for maintenance). Once purchased, the physician gets a username and password that allows him or her to log on to the website and enter all the content he or she wants to include in the individualized app. Cloud Nine then creates the app and within a week, it's submitted to Apple Inc. for the iPhone and Google for android phones. Apple takes 10-14 days to approve it, while on Google, the app goes live immediately without any approval process. Any amendments or additional information can be submitted on the go, and the app automatically updates itself in real time.

Despite an earlier launch, Cloud Nine officially put the Doctor App on the market January 1. Since then, Dr. Shah said, there have been about 35 people who have bought the Doctor App to build; 25 of these are already available for free download.

Dr. Feldman said, “Since setting up the Philly Eye App, which was quite simple, we've been impressed by the hundreds of times that our app has been downloaded. We believe that the app is another way for our practice to stay fresh in the minds of our patients and reflects how we remain innovative in this rapidly changing field.”

Future enhancements

For now the app has only one layout, but Dr. Shah said in the near future there will be different icons and backgrounds to choose from when doctors are building their apps.

“We may provide three or four themes that the doctor can pick from. Ideally we want to come to the point where the icons and language are all customizable,” he said.

There are several other features Cloud Nine wants to add to the app. Among them, a calendar feature with a medicine dose alarm to help with patient compliance and push notifications so that the user will be immediately alerted to any recent updates.

Editors' note: Dr. Shah is a co-founder of Cloud Nine Development. Drs. Feldman and DeBry have no financial interests in the product mentioned.

Contact information

Shah: 785-218-8669,

The Doctor App The Doctor App
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