I came home from our last vacation with incredible memories and a terrible cold. Whatever it was cycled through my entire family and hit me with a vengeance the day before we flew home. By the time we arrived back at SFO something ungodly had settled into my throat and the next morning it was apparent I needed to see a doctor ASAP. It was also a Saturday. My family was jet lagged, so I chugged some GrossQuil and grabbed my phone hoping to find an easy solution nearby. No luck.
Since Jole and Mia were also still not feeling well my options were limited: I was too sick to drive myself and everyone else was too sick to drive me. The urgent care a few blocks away requires a membership in advance (not very urgent). Then I remembered seeing an ad from my Twitter timeline a bunch of times over the last few weeks for a doctor-on-demand service called Heal. I downloaded the app (available for iPhone and Android), entered my symptoms (demon on throat?) and within about 30 seconds I was on my way to requesting a doctor.
Heal offers on-demand house calls from doctors within an hour for $99. At that point I would have paid almost anything to have someone tell me what was wrong and how to fix it, and knowing I wouldn't have to change out of my PJs was a sweet bonus. A few minutes later I got a call from Heal’s operations manager confirming my request and address. She asked me a few simple questions, and a few hours later a white-coated doctor and his medical assistant were at my door (visits are usually available in less than an hour, but they were busier than usual when I reached out so it took just under two hours).
I tried to pull myself together for their arrival but it was pointless. I felt terrible, Jole and Mia were marginally better, our luggage was everywhere—our house and the people in it were a mess, but the Heal team handled it all gracefully. The doctor asked me a lot of detailed questions, which I realized were because we had just traveled. Once he was satisfied with my answers he did a physical examination and in a few minutes surmised that I probably had a viral infection that might clear up in a couple of days. He advised me to stay on the GrossQuil, get lots of rest and fluids, and see how I felt in 24 hours. The medical assistant called in a prescription for antibiotics just in case, but he left it up to me to pick it up if I wasn't feeling better in a day or so.
I was so grateful on so many levels: first, he confirmed I wasn't dying, which is awesome. I wasn’t forced into unnecessary antibiotics, and I was talking to a great doctor IN MY LIVING ROOM. While the doctor spoke with me his medical assistant took notes, and on their way out she gave Mia a plastic microscope and stethoscope for Mia, who now runs around the house doing “checkups” for any person or doll within reach. We call her Dr. Mia. It’s the best!
Later that day I got an email with an electronic copy of my record for the visit, and the next day the operations manager called to see how I was feeling and if I needed to see the doctor again. Thankfully his direction to rest and stick with the medicine paid off—I was feeling much better by then. I really don’t know why we as a society ever stopped having house calls, but now that I’ve had this one I’m not sure I can go back to dragging myself out to an office when I'm sick and I will absolutely take advantage of Heal the next time Mia needs to be seen for her latest toddler malady, since they offer pediatric visits too!
- Heal is currently available in San Francisco (and Los Angeles) with service coming to the greater Bay Area in the coming months.
- Doctors are available daily starting at 8am (overnight request will be seen first thing the following morning).
- Heal's offers doctors for adults and children (there are pediatricians on staff).
- You can submit the $99 fee to your health insurance for reimbursement and may only have to pay your co-pay.
MAMA SAYS: Heal is a game changer. Seriously. I hope my family is healthy enough that we don't need to use it often but I'm REALLY glad it exists and I think it can be hugely beneficial for families who need non-emergency care.