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

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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 9:51 AM
Updated: Apr 1, 2020 3:45 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.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 36578

Reported Deaths: 2258
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion10188604
Lake3876207
Allen181071
Cass15919
Elkhart158528
St. Joseph135838
Hendricks120478
Hamilton119194
Johnson1125113
Madison60061
Porter56233
Clark53942
Bartholomew53139
LaPorte44824
Howard44236
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Jackson4012
Delaware39741
Shelby39722
Hancock35427
Boone32436
Floyd31941
Vanderburgh2913
Morgan28626
Noble27821
Montgomery24917
Clinton2471
White2399
Decatur23132
Grant22923
Dubois2113
Kosciusko2052
Harrison19622
Marshall1872
Henry18512
Vigo1828
Greene17226
Dearborn17122
Monroe17113
Lawrence17124
Warrick16729
Miami1461
Putnam1427
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Parke180
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Martin140
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Unassigned0180

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 125915

Reported Deaths: 5795
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook813443880
Lake8647334
DuPage7997394
Kane6672205
Will5799285
Winnebago246566
McHenry167779
St. Clair126292
Kankakee98954
Kendall83919
Rock Island70325
Champaign6777
Madison62465
Boone49817
DeKalb4508
Sangamon36029
Peoria30111
Jackson30010
Randolph2734
McLean22613
Ogle2253
Stephenson2115
Macon20020
Clinton19017
Union17114
LaSalle16016
Whiteside14913
Coles13817
Iroquois1355
Warren1220
Out of IL1161
Grundy1112
Knox1020
Jefferson10116
Monroe10012
McDonough9113
Unassigned900
Lee821
Tazewell815
Cass760
Williamson753
Henry700
Pulaski580
Marion520
Jasper467
Macoupin462
Adams441
Morgan421
Perry420
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Montgomery411
Livingston362
Christian354
Jo Daviess321
Douglas280
Jersey241
Menard220
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Mason180
Mercer180
Carroll172
Hancock171
Shelby161
Alexander140
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Bond121
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