More specifically, making decent, affordable healthcare available to everyone is our most critical mission.
I’m not talking about big-government fixes like Obamacare.
I’m talking about making a technological innovation that makes healthcare – and healthcare information – more readily accessible to millions of people.
Now, communicating medical information over long distances isn’t a new phenomenon. Even before telephones, African villages used smoke signals to warn strangers away from villages that had outbreaks of disease. And radios have been used for years to get doctors in touch with remote patients who are far away from clinics and hospitals.
But in the developed world, remote medicine can increase both convenience and care, while also cutting costs.
That’s the theory, anyway.
Unfortunately, though, such technology hasn’t really taken off as hoped. Telemedicine has proved expensive, difficult, and limiting. So getting consumers to adopt it has been challenging.
But a new company has big plans to catapult telemedicine into the 21st century, cutting costs and increasing quality…
Just as the Name Says… “Doctor On Demand”
As its name suggests, Doctor On Demand harnesses the power of the internet to allow patients to speak to physicians about a variety of ailments… but without having to physically visit the doctor’s office or hospital.
For $40 per “visit,” the app connects patients with physicians instantly.
It’s useful for those who live in rural and remote areas, those who have difficulty getting around, and people who are simply lacking the time. Which means most of us!
But the telemedicine model isn’t without its obstacles – ones that Doctor On Demand had to overcome. For example…
Regulations: In order for a doctor to diagnose conditions and prescribe medicine, most states require him/her to meet face-to-face with patients. This means the old telemedicine model – which used the telephone – was very limited. Sure, a patient could chat with a doctor, but to actually do anything required a referral to an in-person physician.
But by setting up meetings with doctors using a patient’s existing webcam, Doctor On Demand facilitates this “face-to-face” meeting requirement in 46 states. And as the company grows, it’s only a matter of time before it adds the remaining four states.
Patients like Doctor On Demand’s model better, too. Seeing a physician’s face makes them more comfortable and creates a closer relationship.
Costs: Because of high costs and limitations, telemedicine often hasn’t worked well with other parts of a patient’s healthcare solution. But Doctor On Demand works directly with insurance companies or self-insured corporations to make its version of telemedicine work. A consultation with a doctor is for a flat rate, and the patient’s employer or healthcare provider will often either make it free to the patient or at least allow the visit to count towards deductibles and have the same co-pay as an in-person visit.
Not only that, the model is effective…
17 Out of 20 Problems Solved
Of the 20 most frequently named reasons to visit a doctor or urgent care center, Doctor On Demand feels that it can treat 17 of them via its app.
This includes getting a diagnosis, gaining information about treatment, and even getting prescriptions, which doctors can send directly to pharmacies for pickup.
Obviously, though, there are still some limitations. If you’re bleeding, the app isn’t going to stop it… just get to a hospital!
But if you do use the app and show that you’d be better off being treated in person, it will quickly refer you to a more appropriate place.
And as for the quality of care?
The (Good) Doctor Is In
If you think that the quality of physicians hired by Doctor On Demand is lower than you’d get from your local doctor, think again.
The company says it has far more qualified doctors applying to work than it currently has openings for. Why? Two reasons…
- Time: Many doctors who work for Doctor On Demand don’t do it full time. The company lets them set their own hours, which allows them to supplement the income they get from a more traditional practice. Basically, the doctors are interested in the technology and want to increase their flexibility by joining the “gig economy” that I mentioned in my Uber article last week.
- Bureaucracy: If you’re frustrated by the bureaucracy in the medical system, doctors feel your pain, too. But the low-paperwork, no-appointment nature of Doctor On Demand allows physicians to treat far more patients than they can in a traditional practice, even at an urgent care facility. And Doctor On Demand sets its compensation rates in a way that allows doctors to make about as much per hour as they could in private practice.
And if you need further proof that this is no gimmick…
Big Backers Are Queuing Up
Doctor On Demand recently completed a second round of venture capital financing, attracting money from a bevy of powerhouses – including Andreessen Horowitz, Google Ventures, Qualcomm’s venture capital arm, and Sir Richard Branson. And television’s Dr. Phil is an early backer, too.
There’s little doubt that Doctor On Demand is taking the “disruptive” approach to telemedicine – treating its business as a customer service operation and working with insurance companies and healthcare providers rather than against them.
In doing so, it promises to take telemedicine into the 21st century, cutting costs, improving outcomes, and increasing patient satisfaction along the way.
To living and investing in the future,