For the millions of uninsured in the United States, or simply those who live or work far away from a doctor, a new service available for smartphones may help close the gap and reduce the number of people waiting in emergency rooms for minor complaints. Doctor on Demand, which will initially service 15 states including California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington, will randomly pair up patients with doctors in their state for video calls at $40 a 15-minute consultation – which certainly compares favorably with emergency room or urgent care fees. There are currently four categories of professionals who work with the service: pediatricians, family practice, internal medicine, and ER.
Though payment can be administered via credit card or flex-payment, Doctor on Demand still hasn’t worked out how to accept insurance yet, as there are different logistical and programming challenges associated with this in each state. It hopes to do so in the coming year, but in the meantime it’s in the perfect position to market squarely to the uninsured. The service is really only for minor complaints – Doctor on Demand only operated from 7am to 11pm in local time zones, labwork obviously cannot be done, and the average consultation time is seven minutes, shorter even than the full 15 that you get for $40 – but it’s better than nothing and will hopefully make people more knowledgeable about their specific health issues. One could see something like it working with bio-sensing equipment like Kernel in coming years. The service has many layers of privacy compliance, including HIPAA, already in place and has been running a beta program in California with 1,000 physicians for a couple of weeks.
Image: Doctor on Demand via Vimeo