Health Services

House-call service Heal pays $15M for NYC-based Doctors on Call

Heal’s acquisition of Doctors on Call underscores the consumerization trend in healthcare as consumers demand more convenience from their healthcare experiences.

Heal, a fast-growing provider of in-home doctors’ visits, has made its first acquisition, paying $15 million in cash and stock for Doctors on Call, a house-call service that treats thousands of homebound Medicare patients in and around New York City.

The acquisition closed in May but was announced Monday after Heal had already begun working to integrate Doctors on Call, according to Nick Desai, Heal’s co-founder and CEO.

Existing Medicare patients will continue to be served under the Doctors on Call brand, Desai said. Heal, based in Santa Monica, California, plans to see patients of all ages under its own brand.

Heal is in the midst of negotiating contracts with private insurers doing business in New York, the company’s biggest market to date, Desai added.

“We always wanted to bring Heal here,” Desai said. “The acquisition gave us the opportunity to jumpstart our presence.”

Founded in 2014, Heal allows patients to order in-home doctors’ visits via an app or a visit to the company’s website. The service, which employs more than 100 doctors, is available in California, Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Georgia, and now New York.

The company is eyeing other large metro markets in the U.S., such as Chicago, Dallas, Miami and Seattle, Desai said, but it does not yet have firm plans.

Heal began seeing patients in 2015 and said it has made about 150,000 house calls to date. It expects to make more than 100,000 house calls this year, a practice it says can save money and prevent hospitalizations. Doctors on Call, founded in 1968, averages about 42,000 house calls per year, according to Heal.

The merger is proving beneficial for both parties, Desai said.

Doctors on Call is benefiting from Heal’s back-office systems for booking, billing and other functions, as well as from Heal Hub, a connected health device that provides Heal with real-time data on blood pressure, heart rate and other health metrics for its patients.

“We’re taking something that was very good and building on it and making it better,” Desai said.

Heal also is delivering appointments sooner, Desai said. Doctors on Call typically saw patients two to four days after they made an appointment. Heal can make house calls within two hours.

“We are honored to become part of the Heal family and move our services to the next level,” Dr. Paul R. Rosenstock, the founder of Doctors on Call, said in a statement. He has been named Heal’s medical director.

Desai said he expects Doctors on Call to reach 84,000 Medicare house calls per year within the next three years, not counting non-Medicare calls made in New York under the Heal brand.

Heal also is learning from Doctors on Call. The longstanding practice has been successful at cultivating relationships with and referrals from home health agencies, Desai said.

Investors in Heal include Fidelity ContraFund, Jim Breyer, the Ellison Family, Lionel Richie and others. The company has raised nearly $70 million. Heal’s other co-founders are Dr. Renee Dua, its chief medical officer and Desai’s wife, and Greg Drobnick, executive vice president for corporate development.

The company has begun taking steps to raise about $50 million in a Series C round of funding by the end of 2019, Desai said.

Heal’s acquisition of Doctors on Call underscores the consumerization trend in healthcare as consumers demand more convenience from their healthcare experiences.

Photo: Nicolas Mero, Getty Images