Doctors Still Make Housecalls

I have the flu today so I ordered my first housecall through the Heal app and a doctor came to my door with an assistant and gave me a physical and spent about half an hour with me answering all of my neurotic questions. I’m happy with the service. It cost me $99.

About nine months ago, my lower back went out on me so severely that at times I could not even stand. When late at night I was staring at the possibility of soiling myself because I couldn’t drag myself to the bathroom, I thought about calling 9-1-1 (but my body did not let me down and I made it through the night with some of my dignity in tact). This app offers a much better choice.

As with all of my other back attacks, the problem went away within three days.

When I was a kid with a raging fever for days, I got a housecall a doctor who went on to commit suicide some years later and that night he gave me a suppository that brought down my fever and immediately made feel better. I hope I wasn’t the reason he offed himself and I hope I wasn’t the reason my mom got cancer. I like receiving housecalls much better than going to a doctor and sitting in his waiting room with very sick sick people. By personality, I’m more of a taker than a giver.

I get all of my groceries delivered to me by Amazon Fresh. Almost anything I want to buy, I get it through Amazon. I order prepared food through Amazon Restaurants.

Just don’t tell your Heal app that you have chest pains or they’ll cancel your appointment and tell you to go to the emergency room. Say you’ve got the flu and then ask them about all of your symptoms once they arrive. For example, I was concerned I might eat too much protein. So the doctor said you should not eat more than one gram for every pound of body weight. I don’t eat more than 175 grams of protein a day so I can’t stop worrying.

From the New York Times, May 5, 2015:

New smartphone apps can deliver doctors to your doorstep.

Heal is a smartphone app similar to the on-demand car service Uber, but instead of a car, a doctor shows up at your door. Users download the app and then type in a few details such as address and the reason for the visit. After adding a credit card and a request for a family doctor or a pediatrician, the physician arrives in 20 to 60 minutes for a flat fee of $99. Heal began in Los Angeles in February, recently expanded to San Francisco and is set to roll out in another 15 major cities this year. Heal doctors are on call from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, said Dr. Renee Dua, a founder and the chief medical officer of Heal.

Heal doctors arrive with a medical assistant and a kit stocked with the latest high-tech health gadgets, including tools needed to take your vitals or shoot high-definition video of your eardrum. Heal has a roster of doctors who have affiliations with respected hospitals and programs such as the University of California, Los Angeles; Columbia; and Stanford.

“We’re bringing back old-school techniques with new-school technology,” Dr. Dua said.

Obviously, Heal doctors can offer only limited services on a house call. Among other things, they can diagnose and treat moderate ailments like bronchitis, give flu shots, stitch up a nasty cut or write a prescription (they will even pick the prescription up for an extra $19). But you will have to file the insurance paperwork.

“Health really starts in the home,” Dr. Janani Krishnaswami said as we sat at my dining room table in Oakland, Calif., after I had summoned her using the Heal app on my iPhone. “By seeing someone where they live, I can look at what their life is like, what they’re eating, how they’re living, what’s stressing them out. I can take however much time I need with them, which is increasingly difficult to do in our current system of medicine.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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