While telehealth is steadily growing in popularity, sometimes there’s just no substitute for seeing the doctor in person. Heal, a healthcare startup bringing technology to old school doctor house calls, lets users book a provider to come to their house either on-demand or for a scheduled appointment from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.
Today, Heal enters Atlanta as its first major market outside of California.
A Heal house call costs a flat rate of $149. Heal doctors are internal or family medicine providers, so the service is well-suited for primary care issues and illnesses — think basic sprains and strains, a nasty sore throat, or a mysterious rash. Heal can also send pediatricians to cater to the whole family.
The LA-based startup, which began seeing patients in 2015, intends to bring personalization back into healthcare. In a world where doctors spend 13 minutes on average with each patient, a Heal visit averages 31 minutes.
The company says that in its four years of operation, 100,000 Heal house calls have eliminated 71 percent of unnecessary ER and urgent care trips, saving patients more than $62 million.
It’s also genuinely easy to use. A would-be patient calls the service, downloads the app or visits the Heal site to book their doctor visit. Once booked, the provider arrives within two hours.
The service will be offered throughout the metro Atlanta area, including Gwinnett, Forsyth, Fulton, Cobb, Dekalb, and Clayton Counties.
Dr. Renee Dua, Heal’s Chief Medical Officer, says Atlanta and Georgia are prime markets for furthering their mission of improving care coordination. Georgia currently ranks sixth worst in healthcare costs, accessibility and outcomes, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“We ground every decision we make at Heal in the question, ‘where can we deliver both access to healthcare and convenience to a busy metropolitan market?’ We saw a huge potential to make that happen in Atlanta,” Dr. Dua tells Hypepotamus in an email interview.
“We will do our part improve these numbers, as we have in our other service areas,” says Dr. Dua.
Some Heal patients will be able to obtain the service for even lower costs. The launch is in partnership with insurer Aetna, allowing all Aetna plan members in the Atlanta metro area access to Heal’s services at their normal doctor visit co-pay rate.
And to further address chronic disease outcomes, Heal and Aetna have launched a new program, Heal Together, in the Atlanta market. The program allows for Heal doctors to regularly visit select chronic disease patients — folks suffering from high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes, for example — to provide comprehensive primary care in their own home.
According to the CDC, chronic diseases like these are the leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. They account for 81 percent of hospital admissions, 76 percent of physician visits, and the majority of healthcare spending — and these statistics are increasing.
With Heal’s integration with Apple Health Records, features that allow for remote monitoring of vital signs, and in-person visits, the company is aiming to provide a full suite of services that better address the lack of preventative care for these chronic disease patients.
While Aetna members in Atlanta are the only eligible Heal Together participants right now, Heal says its services will soon be in-network with insurers across the country.
Heal also accepts Medicare for its regular visits.
“We aim is to address the needs of 5 percent, our nation’s sickest patients battling chronic conditions, who account for half the nation’s healthcare spending,” says Dr. Dua. “Our model has proven to lower costs by improving outcomes, and we can help make a dent in that spending with comprehensive, coordinated primary care.”