In an increasingly crowded telemedicine field, Doctor On Demand, an online service backed by Dr. Phil and his son Jay McGraw, expedites video consultations with physicians in under three minutes from a smartphone or desktop.
The eight-month old startup charges customers for a 10- to 15-minute consultation with a physician that’s drawn from a network of more than 1,400 general practitioners, internists and pediatricians in 47 US states. Most diagnoses are simple like pink eye, sore throat and allergies, and are not reimbursable by insurance, but customers can use pre-tax dollars from health savings accounts to pay.
But at $40 per consultation, the brand is undercutting the competition: American Well, provider of technology to WellPoint, charges $49 for online visits as does MDLive, while Better provides a personal health assistant for $49 per month, and HealthTap will facilitate medical consultations for $99 per month.
And investors are noticing. The service just raised $21 million in a funding round led by Venrock and joined by Shasta Ventures and Sir Richard Branson, and it just announced its first major corporate deal with Comcast, who’s agreed to subsidize its employee video visits. Venrock led the round, joined by Shasta Ventures and Sir Richard Branson.[more]
Branson said he made the investment because “mobile technology will improve the system for patients, providers, employers and insurers. It will enable a more efficient utilization of resources, and a reduction in the overall cost of healthcare provision,” according to the Telegraph.
For companies like Comcast, the mobile service can help keep productivity up and help cut costs, especially because Doctors On Demand “doesn’t charge companies that it partners with a per-employee per-month fee, unlike other startups in the space,” co-founder Adam Jackson said, according to Business Insider.
“Our business model is hinged on usage,” said Jackson. “We’re a much less risky proposition, and because we go direct to consumer it makes the benefit even more valuable.”
Usage of the app is now just one more part of Dr. Phil’s TV pitch, as Gawker points out, as critics have suggested that the psychologist and Oprah-born TV personality has crossed the fine line between product disclosure, product endorsement and product investment.
Obviously, Dr. Phil’s involvement and the service itself raises a lot of questions among consumers and physicians alike. Some of those questions are answered in the brand’s introduction video below.