Medical house calls may no longer be in vogue, but a new category of apps — telemedical ones — are intent on bringing it back. Heal is one of the most successful doctor-on-demand efforts yet, and on Wednesday, the startup announced a nationwide expansion.
Heal’s previously been available in select cities on the West Coast including the California locations of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County, Silicon Valley, and San Diego, and it’s already facilitated 16,000 patient house call visits, saved an estimated $5.9 million in healthcare costs, and reduced non-emergency trips to the ER by 62 percent for its patients and partners. In the coming months, it’ll begin providing service to cities in New York, Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
“In February 2015, we saw our first Heal patient — ever,” said Nick Desai, CEO and co-founder at Heal. “With visionary investors and a world-class team, we are excited to more fully realize our mission of striving to make healthcare more effective, intuitive, and affordable for all.”
Nick Desai and Dr. Reneee Dua co-founded Heal with the ambitious mission of “transforming the broken healthcare system” by creating a “more efficient doctor’s office in the privacy of homes and offices.” The idea’s to free board-certified doctors from the burden of seeing dozens of in-office patients each day, giving them more time to “take care of patients.”
Desai had the idea for Heal when his son was sick and waited hours at an emergency room, only to be turned away because his problem “wasn’t that serious.” He believes that as much as $40 billion annually is being wasted in the overuse of emergency rooms.
“Sixty percent of Americans want a doctor who will make house calls. The health care system is broken — and no one is happy,” he said. “Patients aren’t getting needed access to quality primary care, doctors aren’t practicing the quality medical care they’ve been trained to, hospitals aren’t living by measures consistent with what’s best for the patient.”
Apps like Heal, he maintains, can lower costs for the larger healthcare system while improving health outcomes for patients.
Heal’s well on its way. It’s in-network with all major PPO insurance companies and Medicare, and patients who don’t have insurance coverage pay a flat $100 fee for the house call. And its investors include Fidelity ContraFund, Thomas Tull, Facebook investor Jim Breyer, the Ellison Family, musician Lionel Richie, Dr. Paul Jacobs, and others.
“Together with Rish, we are eager to re-invent the system of healthcare as we know it,” Heal’s SVP of engineering Bhavini Sonjei said.