How Mobile Medicine Works

Other Types of Medicine on Wheels

Women wait to receive a free mammogram outside of Peru's first mobile unit for breast cancer detection, in Lima.
Women wait to receive a free mammogram outside of Peru's first mobile unit for breast cancer detection, in Lima.

House calls may be so 1950s, but make no mistake about it -- some medical professionals are hardly bound to their desks and exam rooms anymore. For example:

Dentists: We're supposed to visit the dentist for cleanings twice a year, but for some people that's a pipe dream. More mobile dentists are popping up, particularly those designed to serve populations that have a hard time getting dental care, like low-income communities, children and the elderly. They'll actually set up shop in parking lots, schools, churches, nursing homes and other public venues to provide a full dental experience to those in need [sources: Apple Tree Dental, Smile Programs]. That's something to smile about!

Prenatal Care: Mothers-to-be and their babies deserve the best, but some get little to no prenatal care. A 2010 study of women in similar demographic categories found that those who used mobile prenatal services had fewer preterm births and low-birth-weight infants than those who did not have access to such care [source: O'Connell et al.].

Mammograms: Mammograms after age 40 are generally covered by insurance and highly encouraged, since breast cancer is vastly easier to treat when caught in early stages. Many hospital systems operate mobile mammography units, like the James Graham Brown Cancer Center in Kentucky, so they're easy enough to find if you keep your eyes open or do a quick web search. Some larger employers actually arrange for on-site mammograms, often as part of breast cancer awareness initiatives.

Cardiology: Rural hospitals often have limited cardiology capabilities. Rather than put a patient through the trauma of transfer, it's sometimes easier to bring the goods to them. Oklahoma State University Medical Center is one such rolling cardiology unit, providing smaller hospitals with the benefits of their portable testing services that can literally save lives.

General Health Screenings: Rolling clinics, like the one offered at Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center in Indiana, are ideal for people who need a basic checkup, but don't have the means to get to a physician's office. Employers that encourage wellness checks also sometimes bring the clinics on-site, so that employees spend less effort to keep an eye on their overall health – and less time out of the office.