Rana el Kaliouby
For pushing the envelope in human-centric artificial intelligence
For updating the old-fashioned house call
Heal used to be known mostly as a platform where you could book a doctor to come to visit your home, fast, and often covered by insurance. It still is, but the sudden pandemic-inspired interest in telemedicine has given the company, which was already offering some services remotely in California, an unexpected boost. The company was founded by Dr. Renee Dua and her entrepreneur husband Nick Desai in 2014, after they spent seven hours in an emergency room with their feverish one-year-old. The idea behind Heal was to free doctors from paying office rent and a brutal squeeze-in-as-many-patients-as-you-can style of primary care. In return, patients would pay less; home visits are $159 without insurance. Doctors travel around in Heal-provided cars and see 12 to 14 people per day.
Heal, which is currently available in six states, is riding the massive wave of interest in companies that can provide remote healthcare, with demand up 540 percent since March. Humana announced a $100 million investment in Heal in July--something Dua says saved the company. “It happens just at that moment where you’re like, ‘It’s not going to happen. I have got to give up,’” she says. With the investment from Humana, Dua says they will expand into five new markets next year and make tele-therapy more widely available. “Just when you think you really should give up: don’t. Even five minutes extra that you put in, there might be someone around the corner that wants to help you.” –Gabrielle Bienasz