House call app delivers doctor to your door

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Many of us love the convenience of smartphone apps like Uber or Lyft, that bring a driver right to our door.

But Lisa Zawacki was thrilled to find a similar app that would deliver a doctor to her home.

It's called Heal, and Zawacki first heard about the app it on the radio when she was living in California.

It was on a weekend, and she wasn't feeling well.

But Zawacki didn't want to go to urgent care,or wait until her primary care practice reopened on Monday.

So, she downloaded the Heal app, typed in her medical problem, and booked a two-hour window.

The 50-year old, now living in Atlanta, loved her first visit.

"A lot of times, at a doctor’s office you're waiting around," Zawacki says. "They are an hour late. And with Heal, you have the time, and they come to you. It's super convenient."

Today, internist Dr. Willette Davis is making the rounds with a medical assistant. 

She's new to Heal, and Heal is new to Atlanta, launching in January of 2019.

But, Dr. Davis has spent 20 years working in a traditional internal medicine practice.

"When I did outpatient medicine, there was a rush to get patients through," Davis says. "I think patients felt that, like they were being cycled through. The doctors felt that, too."

On this visit, there is no rush. 

"Then sit down, and they spend 20-30 minutes, and they go over everything," Zawacki says.

Davis likes the old-school intimacy of making house calls.

"To be able to come into a home, spend an hour with the patient, get to know them, get to know their full history, it has just changed the whole paradigm of healthcare delivery," Davis says.

Heal physicians can handle primary care, urgent care even pediatric care, 365 days a year, including holidays and weekends.

The doctors make house calls between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Heal says it offers "price transparency," so customers know how much a visit will cost them before they book an appointment.

The fees vary, but the company's website says there is typically a $149 flat-fee if you're self-paying.

For now, in the Atlanta area, Heal only works with two health insurance plans: Medicare and Aetna..

Bill Custer, a professor in the Institute for Health Administration at Georgia State University, says it makes sense for health insurance providers to work with home delivery healthcare models like Heal.    

"A lot of insurers are seeing this as a way they can reduce costs," Custer explains. "Having people have regular primary care reduces the probably they'll go to the emergency room or the hospital."

Lisa Zawacki's insurance company covers the visits.

She still has a primary care doctor, but says she rarely goes to see her physician anymore.

"Especially when you're not feeling well, to not have to leave the house, and have the doctor come to you, it's fantastic," Zawacki says.

Heal is available across California and has expanded to Atlanta, Washington, DC, and Northern Virginia.