Another company is entering the physician direct to patient or “housecall” market in California. It is surprising how much money is being thrown at this and how unfortunately, the business model is still not sorted out. Excerpts from the MSN article include
California-based Heal is betting that housecalls can not just make you healthier, but also create a more efficient business model for doctors.
It’s easy to call Heal, a California service that delivers a doctor to your doorstep in 2 hours or less, 365 days a year, an Uber for healthcare. But Cofounder and CEO Nick Desai thinks it can be much more.
What to do about it? Desai thinks we need to give doctors more time to take care of fewer patients. And with a $26.9 million Series A investing round announced this week, Heal should be in a better position to build technology that can help make that happen.
Heal’s mission is to make a more efficient doctor’s office. Patients in select metro areas across California can use the app to schedule a housecall or request a doctor to arrive within 2 hours. A visit is $99, or the normal doctor co-pay fee for patients covered by several insurance companies. For doctors, software streamlines what were once costly office operations: checking insurance, calling in prescriptions, filing health records and billing patients.
Precision medicine, Desai explains, is made possible when doctors can see a more complete picture of the environmental and lifestyle factors that might play into health get to know their patients over time. The importance of a personal connection is one reason why Heal shies from the uber-for-doctors label. “We want to be your family doctor in your family room,” Desai says. He also sees this as a major differentiator between other telemedicine and housecall services. New York City-based Pager offers on-demand doctors when you’re sick, but doesn’t replace your primary care physician. North Carolina-based Doctors Making Housecalls focuses particularly on keeping frail and elderly patients.
Of the approximately 40 patients a doctor in a traditional office might see in one day, Desai estimates about 25 of those patients “pay for” rent and overhead and another 7 “pay for” office staff, billers and other common expenses. Heal eliminates or automates 65-70% of a typical office’s expenses, lessening the pressure to speed through several clients and giving doctors time to provide high-quality care.
Patients seem to appreciate the extra time and attention, too. Desai reports that, of the 7,000 families who have used Heal since it launched in February 2015, more than 40% have used it more than once already.