DrNow App Helps Healthcare Providers Make House Calls in Houston
Need a doctor to make a house call? There’s an app for that.
DrNow is a startup founded by Akash Bhagat, a physician and founder of two stand-alone emergency rooms in Houston. The DrNow app recently launched in the Apple App Store and connects patients with doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners who will come to the home.
“We offer concierge care at a very reasonable price,” Bhagat says. “We are particularly targeting mothers to save them trips to ER. Especially if one kid is sick and the other isn’t, you don’t want to go to the hospital.”
The service enlists physicians who are interested in treating additional patients during their downtime. Patients needing treatment will be connected to the doctors via DrNow’s app, which gives them an ETA of when the doctor will arrive at the patient’s home. (The goal is to have a provider with the patient within two hours.)
Right now, DrNow has 20 physicians (including pediatricians) and nurse practitioners in Houston using the service. Bhagat says the company plans to roll out the service to other Texas cities by the end of the year. Patients pay $199 for each house call with an enhanced plans in the works to be available for $1,500 a year that enables the patient to have the doctor’s cell phone number and unlimited contacts. DrNow takes 25 percent of the fee, while the physician gets 75 percent.
“The doctors will have time to build relationships with patients instead of the current healthcare system: lab rats spending seven minutes with a patient,” he says.
Bhagat says DrNow has partnerships with independent pharmacies to enable the doctors to prescribe. The medicine is delivered the next day. Patients are given records of treatments and prescriptions in order to submit to their insurance carriers for reimbursement, he adds.
“This is a huge money saving opportunity for insurance companies,” Bhagat says. “Instead of going to the ER at 10 p.m. for a UTI or strep throat and paying a $1,500 ER bill, the patient pays a $50 insurance co-pay and pays $200. Once the app gets traction, this will be a huge cost savings for insurers.”
Bhagat says DrNow’s founders have invested $1.2 million of their own funds into the company.
DrNow joins a number of other startups aiming to bring house calls into the 21st century. In Dallas, Mend healthcare, which launched in May, is also touting its house-call app while PediaQ focuses on house calls for sick children.
Nationally, there are companies such as Pager in New York, Heal in Los Angeles, and Retrace Health in Minneapolis. Each of the models is slightly different. Retrace Health offers video consultations, for example.
For Bhagat, the most immediate challenge is how to manage growing numbers of providers and patients in order to maintain the two-hour response time. Bhagat, who is an emergency medicine physician who founded several Houston-based independent emergency clinics, says he believes the service will be attractive to both patient and doctor.
“This is concierge care at a very reasonable price,” Bhagat says.