Imagine you’re experiencing troubling symptoms at 2 in the morning. You search the Internet for answers, but you can’t sleep without a second opinion. So you pull out your smartphone, find a specialist, and instantly call them up for a live video/audio consultation.
The closest thing to round-the-clock, quick access to a physician is a 911 dispatch call to a paramedic and a trip to the ER, but Hrishikesh Amravatkar has come up with the latest medical mobile app to change the paradigm. He is the CEO and cofounder of DoctorQuickly, an mHealth app promising 24-hour secure connection to a board-certified physician. Patients pay by the minute for this concierge service, setting the app apart from similar subscription-based or flat fee services.
“Innovation is the tool to give back to the society,” Amravatkar said. His growing frustration with the current health care system motivated him to take action. Drawing on his background in video streaming technology, he saw an opportunity to cut through doctor-patient communication barriers. The company is quickly attracting specialists in internal medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, OBGYN, and cardiology giving physicians the opportunity to earn extra income from home while helping people in a direct and meaningful way.
Now Amravatkar and cofounder & CTO Steven Chau are on a mission to become the market leader in mobile tele-medicine and make healthcare accessible and affordable. Amravatkar talked to me about the motivations and challenges of his journey to create a simple new mHealth app.
What gave you the idea for DoctorQuickly?
My wife and I were expecting a baby and one night my wife started having stomach cramps. We got worried and tried calling a nurse, but the wait time was really long and the nurse was not able to advise us. We decided to drive to the nearest emergency room where we were made to wait for four hours before a doctor could see her. Those four long hours were agonizing.
Once the doctor arrived she said that my wife needed to take some pain killers and rest. That was it! For that simple information we had to go through all this incredible pain. This is when I realized there’s got to be a better mechanism to reach doctors directly when you truly need them.
How does DoctorQuickly work with a traditional model where the primary care doctor refers the patient to a specialist?
Our ideal patient is someone who first goes to WebMD or Google and makes an unreliable diagnosis over the Internet. Patients need a second opinion and a quick consultation over the air with live video stream and a real Doctor is the solution. For example, a pregnant woman might call DoctorQuickly with an OBGYN question if she doesn’t know what’s happening in her body: “My baby isn’t kicking; I’m having abdominal pain.” Or patients with psychiatric needs who do not need to go to a health care facility could use DoctorQuickly. It’s a case-by-case scenario. We are less inclined to work with patients with chronic disease or emergency calls. If someone has a severe heart condition, for example, they would be not be counseled through DoctorQuickly and would be referred to call 911 or their own primary care provider. These are the first initial steps in bringing Tele-medicine to the mainstream with more complex cases in future.
There has been a rising trend in the direct primary care (DPC) model of Health care. With our platform a patient can pay out of pocket for off-hour consultations over the phone. Even better, if the patient-doctor relationship is already established, the doctor can bill the insurance company as part of caring for his or her patient. Doctors can choose their own pricing and see more patients by doing this.
What challenges have you faced developing an mHealth service?
The biggest challenge for DoctorQuickly was not only building and architecting an easy to use product, but also understanding the numerous health care regulations. Consequently we have consulted with some of the leading medical experts regarding best practices. There are multiple layers to the existing healthcare model, which we had to understand before building the product.
Tele-medicine, including mHealth, is still not fully covered by health insurance. There is no copay; it’s part of a concierge service. Also, tele-medicine has limitations based on state lines, which means that doctors outside the patient’s calling area cannot provide informational consultations. This creates barriers to adoption.
How have doctors and patients responded to your service?
We have had overwhelming interest in our product both from patients and health care professionals. We do have plans on expanding and applying the product in different markets. Within one month of the product launch, and no marketing budget, we have exceeded our goal in patient sign-ups, as well as doctors who are willing to partner and work day and night.
DoctorQuickly is on the cutting edge in the mobile health market. We will see major disruptions from our platform soon. We are already one of the first mobile apps for mobile tele-medicine. We will also be the first platform to be launched with Apple Health Kit. Not only that but we are already the first platform that allows doctors to answer video calls directly from their cell phones no matter where they are.
Dr. Quickly image and CEO images: byDoctorQuickly
Medical mobile app iamge: Healthinformatics