Doctor On Demand, a start-up that facilitates quick video consultations with physicians closed a $21 million Series A round led by Venrock. Consumers can access in under three minutes a physician from a smartphone or a desktop.
Founded only eight months ago, Doctor On Demand has gained rapid visibility thanks to its founders, television personality Dr. Phil and his son Jay McGraw who produces The Doctors, a health talk show where viewers can submit questions to a small stable of doctors. The McGraws flog the service on their shows to millions of mostly young women who are not necessarily aware that the McGraws are stakeholders, since disclosure appears with the credit roll. (Rival Dr. Oz who’s an investor in health and wellness platform Sharecare also uses his show to publicize that start-up).
A TV promotion caught the eye of British mogul Richard Branson while on a trip to the U.S. He joins Venrock and Shasta Ventures in this round, bringing the total amount raised to $24 million. Venrock partner Bryan Roberts, who has a stellar record as a health IT investor, is now a board member.
While Doctor on Demand’s chief executive Adam Jackson says the start-up targets mainly retail customers who pay $40 for 10 minutes or so with a physician, it signed upComcast CMCSA +1.6%, its first major corporate customer which will subsidize its employees video visits. Doctor on Demand has a network of more than 1,400 general practitioners, internists and pediatricians in 47 states. They diagnose simple ailments, such as pink eye, sore throat and allergies. Insurance doesn’t reimburse video consultations, but customers can use pre-tax dollars from their health savings account to pay.
In an increasingly crowded field, the start-up is undercutting the competition with its $40 fee. American Well, which provides its technology to WellPoint WLP +1.2%, charges $49 for online visits, so does MDLive. Better offers access to a personal health assistant for $49 a month, and HealthTap recently announced it will facilitate medical consultations for $99 a month. Jackson also says that his company charges corporations $40 when the service is used, as opposed to the industry practice of charging per employee per month.
It’s time for payers to follow.