I’m about to change your life. Do not miss this post, especially if you live in California. On Friday, I had a doctor’s appointment to renew my depression meds. And the appointment happened in my home, on my sofa, less than 2 hours after being scheduled.
I’m going to say that again. On Friday morning, I realized I was down to 3 pills. I used Heal to make a doctor’s appointment, and then I kept working (blogging, emailing, prepping for a photo shoot, etc.). Within 2 hours, a doctor of internal medicine, and a medical assistant, were at my door.
It was amazing. I feel like I experienced the future of medicine. And I can’t stop talking about it.
Heal makes house calls. Their doctors can do anything your primary care physician can do, from wellness checks, to flu shots, to treating ear infections and UTIs. And they’re not expensive — the house calls cost the same copay you already pay at the doctor’s office. Not a penny more. Plus, getting an appointment is much, much faster, and worlds more convenient. Affordable doctor house-calls. It’s revolutionary. Just picture for a minute what that means:
Imagine your toddler is sick with a barking cough that sounds like a seal and it seems to be getting worse. You need a doctor’s appointment. And you also have a 4 month old baby. Normally, you’d have to call the pediatrician’s office to see if they can fit you in. Wait 5 hours for your appointment. Get the kids dressed (and bundled up if it’s cold — and you know your toddler should be in bed!). Buckle them into carseats. Drive to the office. Find parking. Wait in the waiting room for another hour. Worry your baby is getting exposed to all sorts of germs. Finally get called back to see to the exam room. Make your toddler wait in a cold room wearing a paper sheet. Get 5 minutes or less with the actual doctor. Then try to pay and handle paperwork while your baby cries because she missed her nap.
A nightmare. And I have lived through that exact scenario a hundred times.
With Heal, that whole nightmare situation disappears. You use their website or an app to scheduled an appointment. It’s just as simple as ordering an Uber or Lyft. So easy. The doctor shows up at your house within a couple of hours. Your sick toddler can remain in his pjs. No one has to be put in their carseat. No parking needs to be found. You don’t even have to put your shoes on.
The doctor can see your child on his bed or on the sofa or wherever your toddler is most comfortable. No paper gowns. No waiting. And the copay happens through the app, so no dealing with a cashier or paperwork either.
It seriously feels like a miracle. Like this is how medical care should be.
I keep thinking of all the different scenarios where Heal would save the day.
If you get sick while traveling, Heal will come your your hotel room.
If it’s the weekend, and your doctor’s office is closed, don’t drive 40 mins away to the nearest urgent care, and then wait in the lobby for an hour or more. Use Heal instead. Heal is open 7 days a week from 8:00 to 8:00, 365 days a year. (Yes! That means you still have time to make an appointment when you get home from work. It’s not too late!)
If your aunt doesn’t have a car but needs a flue shot. Use Heal and they’ll go to your Aunt’s home.
If you’re stuck at a desk all day but really need to see a doctor, Heal can help you at your office.
If your schedule is packed this week, but your teen needs a physical before she joins the track team, or he goes on a scout campout, Heal will come to you at your convenience.
If you or your spouse haven’t had a physical in years because who has time? Heal can make it happen today.
If you have a crazy rash (or yikes! an STD) and are too embarrassed to leave the house? Heal will take care of you in the privacy of your own home.
I’m telling you, this is a life changer.
Let me walk you through my own visit, so you can see just what it was like. And then let’s talk clearly about money and insurance.
At around 9:30, my appointment is scheduled through the app (you can get the app for iOS or Android — or you can skip the app and schedule your appointment on the Heal.com website). Then I work as usual in my house. At 11:00, my phone gets a text that a doctor is on his way. On the app, I can see his photo and bio. I learn he went to UCLA. A few minutes later, the doctor, Matt Walvick, and the medical assistant, Kiran Kaberwal, are on my front doorstep.
They come in, and while the doctor talks with me on the sofa, the MA sets up. She uses the coffee table for some of the equipment, and then sets up a sterile area on the dining table. I take a second to sign my paperwork on the doctor’s iPad.
The doctor checks my eyes and ears and mouth, listens to my heart. The MA checks my blood pressure and temperature. We chat about Wellbutrin, the medicine I take — what’s my current dosage, how are things working, are there other options I should consider.
There is zero rush, zero hurry. It is clear they have all the time in the world. There is no patient waiting in the next room. At the dining table, the MA is all set up to draw blood and give me a bandaid. They’ll drop the sample off at the lab for me, and then the doctor will call or text (whatever I prefer) when the results are in.
The doctor uses his iPad to send my prescription to my favorite pharmacy right before my eyes. We shake hands. I resist trying to hug them both because I am so grateful. And then off they go while I get right back to work on my laptop.
I’m going to get teary thinking about it. Trying to stay on top of my depression has been an incredibly hard part of the last few years. Finding a doctor, trying to get appointments scheduled in between work trips and conferences. It’s a non-stop worry.
And trying to get out of bed or out the door, to see a doctor, when a depression is in full swing, is almost impossible. On Friday, when I realized the whole thing was being taken care of with an app, I felt a huge weight lifted, a huge problem solved.
Clearly, I am a fan.
Now, as promised, let’s talk about fees and insurance. When I first heard about Heal, I assumed it would be cost prohibitive. I assumed it was a service aimed only at the wealthy. I assumed an in-home visit must be crazy expensive. I was wrong. A Heal visit is the exact same price I pay for an in-office visit. Actually less — because I don’t have to pay for parking!
After you download the Heal app, you’ll take a couple of minutes to input your info — name, address, payment preference, etc. — and then, you’ll take a photo of your insurance card. The app will use the photo to automatically populate your insurance info, and before you’ve even made an appointment, you’ll know exactly what the co-pay is. There are no surprises or hidden fees. With my insurance, the copay is $35. It’s the exact same copay I would have if I went to a doctor’s office. If your insurance offers a free preventative physical every year? It’s free with Heal too.
So essentially, whatever your insurance covers, it will work the same way with Heal. But you can skip the waiting room!
But what if you don’t have insurance? Or what if your insurance doesn’t work with Heal? No problem, the flat fee for an in home visit without insurance is $99.
People. If you’ve ever used Urgent Care or the Emergency Room on a weekend because your doctor’s office is closed, you know $99 is a total bargain. And again, they come to you typically within two hours of calling! You make the appointment, put on a movie, and tada! Heal is at your door.
So what’s the downside? Well, there’s only one: Heal is currently only available in California — San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Berkeley, Oakland (and the whole East Bay). They’re growing fast, but they’re just not everywhere yet. I know. A huge bummer. But if you live in California (and millions of you do), I encourage you to give this a try.
A few more questions I had that you might have too:
– What sorts of doctors are on staff?
Heal staffs internal medicine doctors, family practice doctors, and pediatricians too. So they are ready to take care of both adults and kids. And the doctors are excellent! Vetted, high-quality licensed physicians and pediatricians. You can read about them on the website.
– If you love a particular doctor who visits, can you request her next time?
Yes. Yes, you can.
– Are visits only same day, or can you schedule them?
You can totally schedule them. They make it super easy and convenient.
– Do you have to clean the house before they come?
Nope. They could care less what your house is like. They see patients from all walks of life and all socio-economic levels. They just want to help.
– What about the doctors? Is this is big pay cut for them?
Actually, the doctors make the same salary they would if they were working in an office. But they get way more time with patients and have much more control of their schedule. Dr. Wolnick, who came to my home, was the first doctor to work for Heal in the Bay Area. He’s been with them for a few years and says he would never go back to an office. He feels like the quality of care is so much higher with Heal that you can’t even compare.
Okay. I’ve talked and talked. I’m clearly a Heal evangelist. Now I’d love to hear your take. Have you ever had an in home doctor visit before? Can you picture an instance where it would be especially convenient? Do you typically find doctor visits hard to schedule and manage? Do any of you find renewing your depression med prescription to be overly difficult? What are your thoughts?