Back to the Future of Medicine
by Dr Renee Dua
No Virtual Doctor For Me
It's old news that the Medical Industry is desperate for change, the question is what role will technology play in this disruption. If HEAL and other new Doctor access apps are any indication, people do not want virtual doctors or robots doing diagnosis, quite to contrary the focus is all about access. People want to see the Doctor, they want on demand medical care from real Doctors. Getting to see a Doctor has become such a complex endeavor. Whether your issue is proximity, can't take time off of work, incident happened outside of standard Doctor office hours, can't get an appointment with the Doctor for several weeks, or the pesky little issue of the formidable expense of going to the Emergency Room.
Yes it is about getting to see a Doctor when you want it. We're all getting quite familiar with the on-demand industry. There are branded apps for everything from getting a ride, having your car parked, dinner or groceries being delivered. So why not an app to get a doctor? That's the question I asked my techy entrepreneur husband after a lengthy and horribly ER experience with my son last fall.
The notion of making it as easy to get a great doctor as it is to get an Uber turns out to be quite appealing. Sending caring, unhurried and fully equipped doctors from top medical programs to your door, right when you need them, 12 hours/day, 7 days/week is as groundbreaking as it is obvious. Groundbreaking because no one did it before we did, obvious because as soon as you hear the idea, you think “of course – why didn’t I think of that?” And, so awareness of our existence grew like wildfire.
Technology is the glue to HEAL but this is about people, doctors and patients connecting in the real world. Being a Doctor myself, I'm aware of the economic challenges that Doctors currently have. The cost of maintaining an office with overhead, insurance, and staffing is so very high. It is not a surprise when you hear Doctors complain about the disappointing economics of the profession. Contrary to all the problems that we know UBER is having with their drivers, we've created an attractive financial model that is so good we've stopped recruiting for Doctors and are screening the Doctors that are coming direct to us.
Integrating payment and coverage with insurance companies was top priority for us. We knew that it could grease the wheels of adoption if we could gain in-network status with insurance companies.
It's a tribute to our business development team, founder's support and forwarding thinking people at the insurance companies that we were able to successfully connect our new consortium and business model together with insurance companies for patients' so that they could use their insurance to take advantage of this personalized medical care. With in-network status we were are able to develop data integration so that we are able to tell the patient what their insurance benefits will be for the doctor visit right after we photograph their card with image recognition software. You don't have to have insurance to use HEAL but we know people who have insurance like to be able to use it and to keep their money in the pocket Becoming an in-network provider makes it a no brainer for people to use our service because we provide on-demand medical care at your desired location when you want it.
On reflection HEAL's success isn’t surprising. Not because we’re great, but because the disruption we are bringing to healthcare is so long overdue, so widely necessary, and so foundational to 21st century healthcare that early enthusiasm and success was, in retrospect, the easy part.
Of course all startup have a long "to do" lists. High on our list is to make Heal available to the millions of people in our markets who are more comfortable in Spanish, or Vietnamese or the other languages that makes California such a unique tapestry of cultures.
One year, over one thousand patients, and $6MM in venture capital into the start of Heal. We could not have anticipated how incredibly well received Heal would be in the market. In the press, by investors, by doctors and most importantly by consumers; we are grateful beyond words that Heal has been near-universally loved.
Dr. Renee Dua, Founder of Heal
Dr. Renee Dua is a busy working mother who practices medicine while running Heal, a new on demand doctor house call app available in Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Francisco.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, she followed her father’s footsteps and entered the field of medicine, and now shares a medical practice with him in the San Fernando Valley.
Dr. Dua is board certified in nephrology, hypertension and internal medicine and served as Chief of Medicine at Valley Presbyterian and Simi Valley Hospitals. She completed her BS in Biochemistry at UC San Diego, her MD at Chicago Medical School /Rosalind Franklin University, her residency at UCLA and her fellowship in nephrology at USC.
Outside of work, Renee loves cooking for family and friends. As the mother to two young boys (18 months and newborn), she is still learning parenting “on the job” and believes there is no way one can ever be perfectly prepared for this challenging role. She is always improving her ability to efficiently multi-task now that she must juggle family, Heal, her busy medical practice, and constantly reminds herself to not lose her phone and car keys. Renee is married to technology entrepreneur Nick Desai.
Interview with Dr Renee Dua