A new health care service launched today to make it easier to get minor medical issues addressed without having to spend hours in a waiting room or booking appointments. Called Doctor on Demand, this service has an iOS and Android app that permits patients in the US to make real-time video calls to a physician in their state. Initially, the company says it will be servicing 15 states, including California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
The premise behind Doctor on Demand is pretty straightforward: patients log into the app, enter their symptoms, relevant medical history, and allergies. Then, a health care professional in their state will be randomly selected to help address the issue. Anyone can request a physician visit through Doctor on Demand. The service has four categories of health care professionals: pediatricians, family practice, internal medicine, and ER.
The cost for each consultation is $40 for 15 minutes. The company says that this is a sufficient amount of time because it is only for minor medical issues — in its beta testing, the average call time was 7 minutes. The $40 rate is said to be on par with most insurance co-pays and is “significantly cheaper than urgent care or emergency room visits.”
Patients can pay either by debit/credit card or using their flex-spending account. Unfortunately, Doctor on Demand doesn’t accept most forms of insurance at this time, although it expects to do so in the coming year. It cites logistical challenges as the reason, saying that every carrier has its own programming challenges.
At the end of each call, patients can then rate their physician and provide feedback.
Privacy is certainly an important factor to consider when choosing to use this medium. The company tells us that it is HIPAA compliant and has a slew of security measures in place, such as having a full time System Administration team on board, double encrypted databases and file systems, and 256-bit encryption on its video channels. Photos taken on a patient’s device are not stored locally, but on Doctor on Demand servers.
It’s important to note that this is not a 24/7 on-demand medical service. The company operates between 7am to 11pm local time throughout the US. There are around 1,000 physicians participating in the program already and it has been running in a beta program in California for the past couple of weeks. All of the physicians are overseen by Doctor on Demand’s Chief Medical Officer and former White House Fellow Dr. Pat Basu.
The company has raised $3 million in venture capital from Venrock, Andreessen Horowitz, Google Ventures, Lerer Ventures, Shasta Ventures, and also Athena Health CEO Jonathan Bush.
Photo credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
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