This startup helps patients get an appointment with a specialist faster

Founded by Dr. Paula Muto, UBERDOC is a Lawrence, Massachusetts-based startup that seeks to accelerate the patient’s path to a healthcare specialist.

patient, treatment, doctor's office

No, not Uber. This startup is UBERDOC: a Lawrence, Massachusetts-based company that seeks to accelerate the patient’s path to a healthcare specialist.

It was founded by Dr. Paula Muto, a vascular and general surgeon. She read an article about a woman who broke her ankle and was initially sent out of state for treatment. Instead of traveling, the woman did a bit of Googling, found a specialist and paid for her care in cash.

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“It was getting extremely frustrating to watch patients being shuttled around,” Muto said in a recent phone interview.

It was these frustrations that prompted her to create her startup.

The UBERDOC process works like this: A patient downloads the app and finds the specialist who best suits his or her needs. After selecting a date and time for an appointment, the patient uses a credit card or health savings account to pay $300. That fee includes $50 to make the appointment and $250 after the patient has been seen.

Medicare patients only have to pay $50. The specialist bills Medicare the remaining $250.

UBERDOC is not to be used for emergencies, and its model is only applicable for a patient’s first appointment with a specialist. All subsequent care can be through an individual’s insurance.

The startup’s model is currently available to patients in the greater Boston area as well as those in parts of New Hampshire.

“Obviously we launched it in our backyard because we need to work out the kinks,” Muto said.

However, there are also few interested doctors scattered throughout the country in places like Chicago, Miami and western Virginia, she added.

From the other side of the equation, specialists pay a fee to be listed on the UBERDOC app. They then get the $300 the non-Medicare patient pays for an appointment.

But upon starting the company, Muto, who is still practicing full time, decided not to charge the first 100 specialists who signed up to participate.

Generating revenue is the next goal for UBERDOC.

“We started funding through bootstrapping,” Muto said. “Then we started flirting investors.”

Looking ahead, Muto wants to build up the startup’s team by adding sales, marketing and strategy folks.

“From the PR side, we really want to prove our model,” she added.

Ultimately, UBERDOC’s top goal is to make the healthcare process easier for patients and providers alike.

“We have to make it simple [for patients],” Muto said. “We also make it simple for the offices and office staff.”

Photo: XiXinXing, Getty Images