When you wake up in the middle of the night with a bout of the flu, there are limited medical options for you. Your regular doctor is not in their office and won’t be until the next business day. You are forced to wait, in discomfort, for your doctor to see you when it is convenient for them. We’ve all been there–it’s about as certain as death and taxes.
Enter DocChat and its founder/CEO Michael Okhravi. The doctor, a New York-based millennial, had an idea. The world has become focused on and accustomed to products on demand, so why shouldn’t medical care be as accessible as an Uber? With this idea, Okhravi started DocChat, a telemedicine company that provides nearly instant medical treatment from your phone. The company serves the entire United States.
“Not every person has a doctor in the family that they can call for help whenever they need. DocChat was created to provide high-quality medical treatment to patients when they want it,” Okhravi said.
“Sometimes you work a job where you can’t afford to take the time off to get to a doctor or you are at home with your kids who are sick and just want to help them now. Open the DocChat app and *poof* you’re being treated.”
With the push of a button, you are connected to a board certified doctor who can treat and diagnosis whatever ails you. The doctor that you see through DocChat can send a prescription to your local pharmacy and it will be filled promptly. On top of this, your treatment with DocChat doesn’t end with your initial consultation. Your doctor will follow-up with you after your first visit to make sure your treatment is going well. They will make sure any medication prescribed is being taken properly. They will also make sure you have been able to make any needed appointments with specialists, should they be necessary, and then there is the most unorthodox part of DocChat: it gives the patient their doctor’s contact information.
Now you can call your doctor on their cell phone at any time. There are numerous telemedicine companies in the United States, but only DocChat offers care 24/7, 365 days a year. Its accessibility is a prime selling point for them, as DocChat wants to cater to the patient/consumer on their schedule. Not the other way around.
One thing Okhravi stresses is that DocChat was not designed to replace primary care physicians. “DocChat was built to aid and enhance the capabilities of people’s regular doctors. In places like New York, it can be difficult to get timely treatment for non-critical issues. We give people the guarantee that they will receive help from a doctor within 15 minutes or there are no costs to them.” DocChat’s guarantee about how long you will have to wait maximum to see one of their doctors is an extension of its core mission.
Okhravi believes that medical treatment has become less about patient convenience. “It has always been ‘the doctor will see you now,’ but DocChat has changed that. With DocChat, it is the patient telling the doctor that they can see them now. The patient is a consumer and should be treated as such. Why would somebody in their right mind pay to be treated at the provider’s convenience?”
There is the question of whether or not insurance companies cover what some might see as a luxury. Many insurance companies do cover these services and have for years. In fact, companies such as DocChat view telemedicine as a way of keeping medical costs down for both the patient and the insurance company.
Also, if the issue of privacy of a patient’s medical records is a concern, DocChat takes great care to ensure that patient information is stored on HIPAA compliant servers.
In addition to leading the way in medical access innovation, DocChat is also pushing for reform to how Medicare and Medicaid recipients can access telemedicine services. In 2015, they began an issue awareness campaign highlighting how the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) only covers telemedicine for rural residents. Urban residents are forced to still see the doctor in their office or in the emergency room. Okhravi sees this as detrimental to the quality of health care for people in urban areas.
“Quite frankly, CMS’s approach not only increases wait times to see doctors, but it increases costs too,” Okhravi noted. “The average cost of an emergency room visit in New York is $1,250, whereas the same care provided by DocChat is $50 and the same, if not better, quality. Because of this policy, the government is willfully paying 24 times the amount it should for every patient. It’s baffling that CMS hasn’t opened telemedicine up to urban Medicare and Medicaid recipients.”
The 21st century now permits Americans to get cabs, dates, food, and other goods with the swipe of a finger on their smartphones. DocChat seeks to be the company that brings modern medicine into the age of the app.
Photo by Speaker resources
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