You can get a chauffeur, hairdresser or masseuse straight to your door with just a few taps on a smartphone app. So why not a doctor?
The thought occurred to kidney specialist Dr. Renee Dua one night last fall after spending eight hours in the emergency room with her firstborn only to find out there was nothing wrong with the toddler.
“It was midnight and I turned to my husband and said, ‘There has to be a better way,’” Dua said.
So she and her husband, Nick Desai, a serial entrepreneur who has founded companies including online coaching service FitOrbit, put together a business plan, raised $1.5 million from investors and in February launched Heal, an app that says it will deliver a doctor to your door in less than an hour for $99.
The Santa Monica startup serves the Westside seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The company plans to expand to the South Bay and San Fernando Valley in the next month and then to Northern California.
Patients pay for house calls automatically through the app. Heal takes a cut of the $99 fee – Dua wouldn’t say how much – and doctors get the rest. Heal doesn’t accept health insurance, though patients can submit charges to their plans to try and get reimbursements.
Dua, Heal’s chief medical officer, said the company employs 35 doctors, who are paid hourly and not by the visit. As the company scales up, it might employ some doctors full time. But for now, the physicians are moonlighters, some of whom enjoy the flexibility of hours.
“Imagine how fantastic it would be to drive your child to school, get on, do a shift or two, get home, make dinner and put your kid to bed,” she said.
– Marni Usheroff
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