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The doctor will see you now...in your living room

The rush is on to build emergency field hospitals across the country in anticipation of coronavirus patients onslaught. CNN's Brian Todd reports how hospitals are using creative ingenuity in the face of dire shortages.

Posted: Apr 1, 2020 9:02 AM
Updated: Apr 1, 2020 2:45 PM


Doctors used to make house calls as a normal part of their practice. That's starting to become more common again.

Many Americans are being asked to shelter in place because of the coronavirus outbreak. That's why several health care tech companies have been touting services that allow patients to see doctors at their homes if they're not feeling well but don't have Covid-19 symptoms.

One high-profile home doctor company is called Heal -- founded in 2015 by entrepreneur Nick Desai and his wife Dr. Renee Dua, a nephrologist (kidney specialist) who is also Heal's chief medical officer.

CNN Business spoke to Desai about the growth potential for the company and the unique challenges posed by the fact that patients and doctors need to be extra careful given how contagious the coronavirus is.

Desai said if a patient thinks they may have Covid-19, Heal will first set up a telemedicine visit and only send a doctor to a person's home after ruling out coronavirus.

Heal has a team of more than 150 doctors in seven states and Washington, DC. The physicians and other medical professionals work for Heal -- not hospitals or private practices. The goal is to expand even further, Desai said.

And once a doctor does make a house call, they wear masks, gloves and other full body protective gear. A medical assistant also joins the doctor to administer vaccines and other shots and take blood and urine samples as needed.

Making doctor visits as easy as ordering food online

The goal is to prevent people from getting more sick by being exposed to a doctor's waiting room or ER.

'If we think you have Covid-19 and if the symptoms are mild, then the care plan is to stay home. We want to keep people out of the hospital,' Desai said.

He added that it is also important to not overlook the many Americans who still need routine health care for chronic conditions -- or who just happen to get sick from a cold, flu or other common ailment.

And it isn't always helpful for a sick person to go to their doctor, urgent care or an emergency room when they aren't feeling well -- especially now that hospitals are already under immense pressure.

In fact, Desai said he and his wife decided to start Heal five years ago after their infant son had a fever. Their pediatrician told them to go to the ER...and after the baby was finally seen by a doctor following a seven hour wait, the fever was gone.

'We thought that there has to be a better way,' Desai said. 'We wanted to make ordering a doctor as easy as ordering a pizza by using an app or a website.'

Desai added that with Heal, regular patients can also request specific doctors so they don't have to see someone different whenever there is a problem.

Home and virtual medical visits part of a growing trend

There is a lot of competition from rivals. Pager, MedZed, Dose Healthcare and DispatchHealth are some of the more prominent home doctor services. Heal also has to contend with the likes of Teladoc, a virtual doctor service whose stock has soared this year.

But Heal is backed by $100 million in venture capital funding.

The company also has an eclectic mix of investors -- including former Qualcomm Chairman Paul Jacobs, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and singer Lionel Richie.

Heal accepts Medicare and health insurance from all the major corporate plan providers (i.e. companies like UnitedHealth, CVS-owned Aetna and Anthem) and charges an upfront price for each visit. A standard house call visit is $159 while a telehealth appointment is $79.

Desai said the goal for his company is to let patients rest easy and not worry about leaving their home when they are not feeling well...and feeling worse once they get a bill or explanation of benefits statement.

'If a patient is sick, it's odd that they have to pick if they should go to their doctor or not or maybe the ER. The doctor should come to them and make the decisions. And there should be price transparency,' Desai said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 297651

Reported Deaths: 6808
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19831231
Hinds18971395
Harrison16904283
Rankin12853265
Jackson12756234
Lee9725163
Madison9525204
Jones8045148
Forrest7300138
Lauderdale6879228
Lowndes6062140
Lamar594282
Lafayette5768114
Washington5235130
Bolivar4633124
Oktibbeha443395
Panola433798
Pearl River4219132
Warren4145115
Pontotoc411071
Marshall406795
Monroe3998129
Union397074
Neshoba3857171
Lincoln3632104
Hancock353578
Leflore3404122
Sunflower321386
Tate304674
Pike303497
Scott296871
Alcorn292863
Yazoo292666
Itawamba290775
Coahoma283169
Tippah280265
Copiah280159
Simpson277981
Prentiss271258
Marion258878
Wayne255841
Leake254872
Covington250480
Grenada249178
Adams236278
Newton233353
George232845
Winston222579
Jasper214645
Tishomingo213266
Attala210571
Chickasaw202054
Holmes183470
Clay179452
Stone173529
Tallahatchie171839
Clarke170773
Calhoun158728
Smith154433
Yalobusha146036
Greene128133
Walthall125441
Montgomery123540
Noxubee123431
Perry123335
Lawrence121721
Carroll119725
Amite112535
Webster111132
Jefferson Davis102931
Tunica99824
Claiborne99130
Benton94024
Humphreys93128
Kemper91523
Quitman77514
Franklin76520
Choctaw70317
Jefferson62927
Wilkinson62727
Sharkey49217
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 500092

Reported Deaths: 10148
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson720821403
Mobile36436741
Madison32722469
Tuscaloosa24465422
Montgomery22826523
Shelby22301219
Baldwin19942289
Lee15084161
Calhoun13968296
Morgan13810255
Etowah13427327
Marshall11460215
Houston10140264
Elmore9523190
Limestone9443139
St. Clair9061228
Cullman9012183
Lauderdale8631214
DeKalb8510175
Talladega7650165
Walker6606260
Jackson6554104
Autauga636492
Blount6256128
Colbert6012121
Coffee5270104
Dale4688107
Russell408934
Franklin400979
Covington4000107
Chilton3924104
Escambia379673
Tallapoosa3636143
Clarke344653
Chambers3434111
Dallas3427142
Pike293373
Marion289096
Lawrence286387
Winston258768
Bibb246458
Marengo245457
Geneva240670
Pickens226457
Barbour214351
Hale212969
Fayette202857
Butler201766
Henry183841
Cherokee178340
Monroe166839
Randolph165541
Washington157136
Macon147945
Crenshaw147355
Clay146254
Cleburne140341
Lamar133933
Lowndes133351
Wilcox123125
Bullock117736
Conecuh107124
Perry106427
Sumter101032
Coosa90324
Greene88932
Choctaw56123
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