Ryan McQuaid, a former lead product marketing manager of AT&T's mHealth Platform business, recently launched an Indiegogo campaign for his new company, PlushCare, an app-based system that lets users email, call and video chat with doctors for a subscription fee. (Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated McQuaid was Former Head of Product for AT&T mHealth).
McQuaid told MobiHealthNews that the crowdfunding campaign is less about raising funds and more about getting market feedback and gathering information about potential users. While McQuaid said the company also raised angel funding, he would not disclose the amount.
The service is not meant to be a replacement to having a primary physician, but its Indiegogo page says doctors accessible through the app will diagnose, recommend treatment and prescribe medication for non-emergency medical issues including cold and flu symptoms, bronchitis, allergies, poison ivy, pink eye, urinary tract infections, and respiratory infections.
If users don't have a primary care provider, PlushCare's physicians will help them find and book an appointment covered by their insurance plan. Physicians will also offer specialist referrals and order lab tests.
"That's our vision here, to be the healthcare logistics company," McQuaid said. "The benefits there are to provide patients a much more efficient, more convenient and more affordable experience and then on the healthcare side it's to manage healthcare resources better. And that's making sure that patients are going to the appropriate place for the issues that they're having."
While many other remote doctor consultation services exist, McQuaid isn't worried about market saturation. In fact, he added that if someone were to ask a passerby on the street about remote doctor consultation services, that person would not be able to name any.
"It's an extremely early market..." McQuaid said. "I think what our big focus is on is establishing a relationship with patients and having a premium service rather than a transactional type of experience where you walk into a pop up health clinic and you don't really have a reassurance that you trust that clinic. Ff you're walking into a very reputable clinic like Stanford or UCSF, you have peace of mind."
McQuaid's cofounders are two Stanford-trained doctors who already have full-time jobs on top of communicating with patients through PlushCare. Since the two doctors are licensed to practice in California, PlushCare is currently only offered to people in California. McQuaid said they are actively looking for a pediatrician to add to the staff and eventually they plan to move to other states.
On Indiegogo PlushCare offers a number of subscriptions with different price marks and perks. On the low end supporters can spend $50 on a 6-month trial and get unlimited emails and up to two telephone or video visits with physicians. The most expensive package is for employers. It costs $1000 for a full year, and includes subscriptions for 15 employees. Additional users cost $65 per person. The employer package also offers unlimited emails with physicians and increases calls or video chats to four per person.
As for this writing, two employers, as well as 24 individuals, have signed up for PlushCare. The first employer client is Health 2.0 and the second is a company that came out of UC Berkeley called Back to the Roots.
The company also plans to provide one child with a measles vaccination for every person who registers for the service, which McQuaid said was inspired by the Toms shoes model.