Doctor On Demand’s Redesign and New Focus


Telehealth startup Doctor On Demand wasted no time putting its newly raised $21 million Series A investment to use. The company closed its funding round in August 2014, and has since completely rewritten its mobile app, giving it a new look and feel, and adding new pieces of functionality that were key to its scale-up strategy. In its new version, Doctor on Demand is introducing online appointment booking features so that patients can schedule virtual visits for a time that is convenient for them.

The new scheduling feature represents a shift away from its original concept of providing “on Demand” access to medical consultations. Beyond offering more convenient scheduling options for its users, Doctors on Demand invested in the new feature because it was a necessary step before it could roll out its next two new services, virtual lactation consultations and psychiatric appointments.

Lactation consultations seems like an odd candidate for online consultations. When done in person, the visit tends to be a close up, hands on coaching session on how to get an infant to latch and nurse, which is something that proves to be difficult to replicate remotely. It’s hard to imagine a struggling new mother holding her infant with one hand while lining up and supporting its head with the other, and then also trying to angle a smartphone’s camera well enough that the lactation consultant can follow along and spot problems in her technique. Despite the logistical issues, greater access to lactation consultants is certainly needed. The CDC reports that 79 percent of new mothers start off breastfeeding, but only 40 percent are still breastfeeding at 12 weeks. Meanwhile, lactation consultations remain one of the most requested services on for Doctor on Demand.

Psychiatrist appointments seems like a better fit for Doctor on Demand, and there has been a number of studies validating the effectiveness of virtual therapy visits. A 2013 literature review concludes that the services are “effective for diagnosis and assessment across many populations and for disorders in many settings, and appears to be comparable to in-person care.” The hurdle that Doctor on Demand will likely have with this service is its cost. Telehealth therapy visits are not covered by most insurance providers, and Doctor on Demand plans to charge $95 for a 50 minute session. Compared to the $20 co-pay that most patients will pay if they go to an office-based therapist who accepts insurance, this service is nearly five times more expensive. Couple this with the fact that most patients who go to therapy tend to go regularly, often as much as once a week, and it becomes hard to see how virtual telehealth would be financially palatable to consumers. Until Doctor on Demand can get its services covered by insurance, the company is going to have a difficult time luring patients away from traditional office-based therapists.

Both new services are live starting today.

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