Telemedicine acceptance and growth are just beginning to take hold as consumers learn about the technology and in some cases — such as teenagers seeking help managing diabetes — actually using the systems. Video consultations are certainly more personal than emails or phone calls. Live video chats between patients and healthcare professionals adds a positive, personal element and can be more effective at communicating symptoms and other information. A relatively new company, Heal, is building an app-based telemedicine service that goes much further than just video: a real physician shows up at your home, your office, your hotel, or wherever you’re located in the areas Heal currently services.
Heal doctors are available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County, Silicon Valley, and San Diego. With recent additional funding, Heal plans to expand and improve the service. When a patient uses the Heal smartphone app to request a house call, a background-checked, licensed primary care physician is assigned based on the patient’s schedule. Not only does that mean you will actually get to meet with a doctor, but you won’t have to wait for an appointment opening or wait a doctor’s office or hospital to be seen. For patients whose stories are shown on the Heal website, the time-savings element is secondary only to the medical attention.
Heal doctor visits are covered by Blue Shield of California, Anthem Blue Cross of California, CIGNA Healthcare, Aetna, and United Healthcare insurance plans and are treated liked regular doctor office visits. So if you have a copay for office visits with your insurance, the same amount would apply. People who don’t have health insurance or do have coverage but with a company other than those mentioned above pay a flat $99 fee. There is no extra charge for evening or weekend house calls.
With a nationwide shortage of doctors, especially in rural, remote, and economically challenged parts of the country, a doctor home visit service might not be possible or practical. For people who live in areas where a service like Heal can work, however, physician access and time savings are an attractive combination.