A few months ago at the annual Shoptalk conference, we first heard about a startup named Heal. Similarly to what Uber did to taxi’s, Heal is attempting to disrupt and bring technology innovation to the medical industry. Heal offers on-demand doctors for a flat fee or insurance copay 7 days a week and is currently available in selected areas in the US (Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, San Diego, Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia). At the time of writing this, they’ve most recently completed Series B round of funding raising a total of $51.1M to date.
We recently got the chance to speak with Nick to talk about the development of the app, the concept behind Heal and technology disruption.
Q: Firstly, we think the idea behind Heal is amazing. Can you tell us how you came up with the concept?
Nick: Our inspiration for Heal came from a visit to the ER with our then seven-month-old son. We waited for seven hours for a diagnosis for what turned out to be a non-issue. By the time we had a chance to see the doctor, he didn’t have any of the symptoms we’d come in to have examined.
It was at this time we thought there had to be a better way to create relationships between doctors and patients – and to get patients the care they need, without the wait, through the convenience of technology. We combined my background in technology with my wife Dr Renee Dua’s medical expertise and the concept for Heal was born.
Q: I guess we hear a lot about the growth potential of the telemedicine industry (at least in Australia). How does Heal differ?
Nick: We don’t feel that any service on the market is offering what we can. Mobile health and health apps are huge right now and there are companies doing great things, but none are bringing back the doctor house call for the whole family at an affordable price. While other mobile health companies focus on urgent care through telemedicine, Heal focuses on preventative and holistic care for the whole family through in-person visits to a patient’s home or office. Spreading awareness for doctor house calls as a solution for everyone – not only wealthy or elite patients – is critical to reducing healthcare costs and improving patient outcomes.
Our story is unique because since our launch, we’ve seen over 23,000 patients, saved lives, lowered costs, reduced unnecessary medications and tests, saved ER trips, and provided peace of mind. Our team is comprised of exceptional clinicians, which include Chief Medical Officer Dr. Renee Dua and her medical leadership team who have the demonstrated knowledge and track records of providing high-quality care.
Q: Heal has a diverse and number of well known investors – including Jim Breyer, Thomas Tull and Lionel Richie. How did that come about and how did you attract early investors?
Nick: We attracted early and notable investors because they believed in what we set out to do, which is to make affordable, concierge-quality medicine accessible to everyone. They see our value and they want to support what we’re doing for both doctors and patients because healthcare matters to them. The American healthcare system is failing all stakeholders, and Heal is transforming healthcare by bringing the doctor out of the office and into patients’ homes. It’s something that they all wanted to get behind.
Q: Heal obviously has the potential to disrupt the healthcare industry as we know it. We can’t begin to imagine the challenges and issues you’ve faced along the way, but what were some of the most challenging for Heal?
Nick: The main challenge has been, in building a company within the healthcare industry, we had no other choice than to set the highest of standards for ourselves. With healthcare, people’s lives are at stake and we need to be careful because of this. Heal is built on putting patients first. That includes patient privacy, working with only the best doctors and ensuring every aspect of our service complies with the many regulations that all healthcare companies must adhere to.
Technology companies often disrupt industries by disregarding regulation, but not at Heal. Our focus has and always will be providing a better healthcare experience for both the patient and the doctor by eliminating unnecessary waste in the system. This is challenging but incredibly rewarding!
Q: Where do you see Heal going in the future? How do you see the role of data and artificial intelligence playing into the future of Heal?
Nick: Heal has grown exponentially since its launch. At this time in 2016, we had seen 3,000 patients — as of today in 2017 we have seen more than 23,000 throughout California. We’ve launched in Washington D.C. and will soon be growing to other markets in the United States.
As for the implementation of AI for Heal in the future, we will most certainly leverage AI and machine learning to continue to innovate healthcare service delivery. I think the best way to look at it is this: AI can help by automating things in the healthcare space that are manual, but will never replace the doctor as a whole. Instead, it will provide tools for the doctors to make better care decisions faster – which includes data collection that can help spot medical trends. The doctor is indispensable, and the purpose of technology and data collection isn’t to eliminate the doctor, but to enable the doctor. For example, we can utilize a machine in the near future to read CT scans and x-rays and EKGs in order to provide an opinion, with the final medical diagnosis resting in the hands of the doctor.
Q: Any plans for taking Heal overseas (in particular Australia)?
Nick: Right now we’re focusing on rolling out our service within the United States, but international markets are certainly something we’re thinking about. We want to make premium and economical healthcare available for everyone, not just people in the States!
To read more about Heal, visit their website.