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“With urgent-care centers crowding up and retail clinics packed to the rafters, we see big opportunity,” he said.
And with annual deductibles on health plans rising as high as $5,000, “a lot of people are starting to forgo their insurance and going to a service like ours. Because they’re going to pay the same out of pocket. So why pay for subpar service?”
Jeremy Williams, a Los Angeles emergency room doctor who moonlights for Medicast doing house calls, said the service is a good thing for physicians and patients.
Because there is no time limit on a Medicast house call, “the doctor can spend time with you to really ascertain what’s going on,” he said. “You may have a sore throat, but you’re also a smoker. Maybe we can have a little conversation about smoking. Or maybe you’re overweight. We can talk about that.”
Other big U.S. cities on the radar
That does not happen very often in the truncated office visits of a typical medical practice, Williams said. With Medicast, “the doctor gets to practice medicine the way he really likes.”
The company plans to expand on many fronts. Its app, currently compatible only with iPhones, will be available for Android devices in the near future, Zebarjadi said. The company also expects to launch in other major U.S. cities over the coming months: first in San Francisco and San Diego, then Washington, Chicago and New York.
It might face some competition in New York, where a company called Pager is already providing a similar mobile-based doctor house call service. The company, launched in early May, was co-founded by Oscar Salazar, one of the big brains behind Uber. So far, it operates only in New York City and is available only evenings and weekends. Medicast is a 24-hour service.
Pager charges $300 for a house call and $50 for a consultation with no follow-up visit.
Medicast does not seem to be a company that is likely to be put off by a little competition. Acknowledging the link between Uber and his own line of business, Zebarjadi noted that his company is starting to think about other sectors.
He also said there has been some international interest — from the United Kingdom, China, Germany and India — in the on-call physician service Medicast provides.
But Medicast’s near-term priority is rolling out its service across the U.S.
“We definitely see this growing,” Zebarjadi said. “We want to grow into a national on-call doctor home visit service.”