Renee Dua is a doctor – and a busy L.A. mom of two. And after an exceptionally long night in a hospital emergency room with her infant, to receive medical attention for something that any pediatrician could have handled, she’d had enough. “We spent eight hours of our day sitting there,” Dua says.
So in mid-February she founded Heal, a service that brings doctors to see patients at home. All of the pediatricians, emergency physicians, internists and family practitioners who work with Heal are licensed in California. And Dua says that once a parent uses the service for a child, they soon book appointments for their other children, spouses and even themselves. “We end up acquiring care for the entire family,” she says.
Families can request a Heal doctor between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily via the website (www.getheal.com) or the Heal app. Initially launched in Los Angeles (from the San Fernando Valley to Malibu to the South Bay) and San Francisco, the service expanded into Orange County in July. Doctors arrive within the hour – or you can schedule in advance.
The $99 flat fee per person isn’t always covered by insurance, but Dua says the economics still often work out for parents who would otherwise need to take kids to the doctor during business hours. “What if you lose money taking a day off work?” she asks.
Local dad Darren Gold tried the service this past spring. He wasn’t feeling well, and didn’t want to take time from his business – which he and his wife, Tina, run out of their home – to see a doctor. “They sent a Stanford-trained doctor and nurse practitioner,” Gold says. The family, which includes son Jagger, 3, and daughter Halston, 1, has been using the service ever since.
“Every time my son gets sick now, he says, ‘Daddy, get the doctor to come here,’” Gold says. “Usually, they hate the doctor’s office.”
Heal can provide mobile imaging and mobile labs, analyze blood and urine samples and strep tests. The service covers both acute health issues and regular checkups. “Anything you can do in a doctor’s office, we can do in your home,” says Dua.
Many Heal patients begin using the service for their regular healthcare, and are generally able to see the same doctor every time. For patients using the service for urgent care, or who are under the care of a specialist, doctors can electronically transmit records from Heal visits. And if a patient needs to be hospitalized, Heal doctors coordinate the admission.
Gold was impressed with the quality of care, but even more so with the unhurried nature of Heal visits. “They sit there as much time as you need,” he says. “They answer every question. That’s priceless to me.”