What do you do if you’re a one car family, your spouse is on a business trip with the Tesla and you need someone to look at little Billy, sooner than later? What do you think about the idea of using an app called Heal to get real medical help from a neighborhood or close-by doctor? Visiting doctors is nothing new but Heal wants it to become far more common place.
Heal from Los Angeles is remaking old-fashioned house visits by offering an on-demand service promising a doctor in under an hour. The service had started in LA last year and is now available in San Francisco. There are plenty of new start-ups that are offering telepresence service, meaning you can talk with a doctor over a skype like system, but for some, they want a doctor they touch and to inspect a situation first hand. Heal sends that traditional medical doctor, complete with black bag, stethoscope and other portable, hi-tech gadgets.
Heal founder Dr. Renee Dua, a board certified kidney specialist had a personal situation which had her sick son sitting in an ER room overnight because the right doctor wasn’t available. “It was awful. When your kid is sick you need a simple way to get a doctor fast.” The service is very easy to understand, it will search for a qualified doctor around you and bring them over to your location in under an hour. For some cases this could be a lightning experience compared to waiting in a clinic or a hospital.
Dr. Dua realized that doctors already have all the available tools at hand to handle a cold or flu, “You’d be surprised what we have these days,” gadgets like the AlivCor ECG, a heart rate monitor that hooks up to your smartphone for readings, and the CellScope, a tool that came out of UC Berkeley that turns the camera of your smartphone or tablet into a high-quality light microscope. Heal has raised $3.7 million in seed money so far, and Dr. Dua plans to use the money to expand Heal beyond L.A. and the Bay Area in the near future. To start you need to download the iOS Heal app (Android coming soon) and then offering doctor services between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., seven days a week. A doctor should come to your door within 60 minutes.
The truth is it’s not an original idea, in North Carolina there’s Doctors Making Housecalls. Then in New York City there’s start-up Pager. Also in LA, Medicast which works with hospitals and established physician practices to provide scheduled house calls to patients. So what is Heal charging for the service? A single visit will cost $99 which is significantly more than if you were to take yourself to a doctor but Dr. Dua points out that you should also take into consideration the time, gas money and parking you may have to pay to do so.
Dr. Dua said she’s working on a “hyper-localized” application so that doctors are closer to patients in the same way Uber drivers pick up rides within a certain area close to them. Heal offers a service that will go and pick up your medication, vitamins and whatever else you need at the pharmacy for you. Eventually Heal will be able to offer other things like vaccinations and ultrasound on-demand. They now have a doctor close to every neighborhood in L.A. now. If you’ve ever had an interest in medicine maybe you might want to see how you can apply your media background to helping people?