Just as my life gets more challenging – what with two perfectly imperfect toddlers and a demanding job – more and more services keeping popping up, making parenting easier, more affordable and most importantly, more enjoyable. Most moms I know, working or not, have given up on trying to get everything done on their own because their time is too valuable and there are too many other good options. Well now, folks, there is even an affordable Doctor house-call app called Heal. I know… I was excited, too. Wealthy people have always had medical concierge services – which is basically a retainer that ensures a doctor is at their beck and call. No doctors offices or waiting rooms to deal with. Instead they just lay in their silk and feather down filled beds drinking sparkling artisanal water, watching garbage reality tv while someone is taking their temperature. Sounds lovely, right?
Well now, you can do that too (if you live in LA, San Francisco, Orange County, Long Beach, San Diego or Silicon Valley – they are rolling into other new states this year as well and working to be nationwide soon.) Heal reached out about sponsoring a post and before I said yes, I had a lot of questions.
…I also had two sick kids. At that time (a week ago) they just had the flu, with a gnarly cough but I wanted to make sure that we weren’t approaching ‘ear infection zone’ as my kids are prone. So, I booked the appointment and today I’ll answer your/my questions about Heal and walk you through how we spent our morning with our Heal doctor.
1. Q: How does it work? How do you get a bona-fide doctor that you trust and whom you have never met to come to your house?
A. Well, like everything these days, it’s an app – on your phone and computer. Like Uber, but for doctors. You create an account just like you do with anything, put in some medical/personal information and ‘call for a doctor’. It’s extremely easy and they have great customer service. You can call them for anything from a checkup, to the flu, to strep throat, to physicals, to anything in between and they will bring all their tools to test your vitals and even perform blood tests.
2. Q: Who are these doctors and why aren’t they working in a private practice? Which is my loaded way of asking are they good enough to come into my home and stick a scope in my children’s ears?
A: These are highly vetted general practitioners, pediatricians and internists who are bummed by only spending 7-10 minutes with each patient in private practice, and who want less bureaucracy. They want more quality time with patients, enabling them to learn about lifestyle, background and build a relationship thus leading to more accurate diagnosis with less prescriptions.
This is making them love what they do again, and reminding them why they went to medical school in the first place. I can get behind that. So can Birdie. She’s over the hour wait to get told that she has another ear infection in which she can’t take antibiotics for (we started garlic drops and I think they are staving off the current ear-infection threat).
Our doctor graduated from Harvard and received his MD from Stanford. He did his Pediatric residency at UCLA and was in private practice before he ultimately decided that he wanted to switch to this type of service because he got way more face time with patients and could give them the 45min – 1 hour visit that both he and the patient really needed and wanted.
The Heal Chief Medical Officer, Renee Dua, carefully vets each doctor who are background-checked, licensed, tech-savvy, have a great “living-room” manner and good training.
3. Q: How quickly can they come?
A: Usually within hours, most likely on the same day or you can schedule a day that works for you in the future. They even have an ASAP service, which can have a Dr. to your door in 2 hours. So yes, you can substitute your checkups for your kids with Heal, but you can more importantly also stop going to urgent care after hours (they work from 8am to 8pm) or the emergency room on the weekends if it’s not life threatening and trying to get a day-of sick visit can be difficult.
I really like our Pediatrician in Glendale… when she’s available, that is. She is super popular (because she is so lovely) and you have to schedule out 3 months in advance for well-baby visits and we never get her for sick visits. And unless you get an 8am slot, we have to wait close to an hour before being seen because she is always backed up (because she takes her time with all patients). We have thought about leaving so many times because of the inconvenient wait but I really like her and our kids have been with her since they were born. But now that we have this service, we will no longer do any sick visits there and instead use Heal. It was so convenient and lovely to have him over and not have to worry about leaving the house or taking them into the office.
He took all their vitals, tested oxygen, checked them out all the ways a pediatrician would (we kept it PG for the blog). Charlie was a bit shy/skeptical at the beginning, but he came around, and Birdie (who we should call butterfly because that lady is SOCIAL) immediately was into it.
4. Q: Can you get the same doctor every time?
A: Yes. For same day, immediate service, it’s harder but if you put it in the notes and request them and are a bit more flexible for later that day or tomorrow, then yes you can get the same doctor. Most doctors stick to a particular geographical area so they aren’t wasting time in traffic and trekking all over the place, but still if they are booked or too far away then someone else could come same day if you need them to.
5. Q: Do they take insurance?
A: Yes, in the app they have an easy way to upload your insurance information and most insurances will cover the service (our blue cross, ppo does) – so it’s the same co-pay that you would have at your regular doctor’s office. But, if you don’t have insurance then its $99 for the appointment. That’s way cheaper than urgent care, folks.
We loved it and the next day when Brian woke up with what he thought was strep throat I was like ‘lets just do heal! It’s so easy!’ He was unsure if they did same day strep test but I emailed and they do (which is good because Brian gets strep twice a year). They also can do same day flu test and blood tests (sent out to a lab). They bring a medical assistant who helps with all of that and logs your experience and medical history so that if you have a different doctor for the next visit they know what your history is.
He warned us that Charlie had some infection brewing in his left ear but that Elliot’s ear was clear (yay, maybe the garlic drops?). This visit was a bit enhanced what with having our lovely friend Stephanie taking photos (the doctor had no idea we were shooting and at first he was so nervous but then he continued just doing his job and was wonderful). It was still super helpful to feel on top of their health. We cancelled our 15 month checkup with our pediatrician because she checked out so well with the Heal doctor.
It sounds like a fantasy, right? Getting a well-educated doctor to come to your house and give you a checkup in your own living room, but it’s not. My hope is that it grows nationwide. That the rich aren’t the only ones who can have this kind of comfort and that by spending more time with patients, diseases are diagnosed more accurately, earlier, and that my kids and us won’t wait so long in a doctors office for their visits.
If life is a game of convenience and enjoyment, then we are winning harder and harder every day thanks to companies like Heal.
So what do you think? Have you tried Heal? Would you recommend it? Does this seem amazing or are you scared of concierge doctor service? We welcome all feedback …
***Photography by Stephanie Todaro
This post is in partnership with Heal but all thoughts, designs, and words are by me. Thank you for supporting the pretty amazing brands that we love and help us to bring daily original content to you.