A doctor request notification popped up on his computer screen, and within in two hours, Dr. James Ronayne was at the patient’s house at the Rogers Park, examining the patient while having a cup of tea prepared by patient’s wife.
This is the on-demand health care model, companies like Orunje trying to provide. The goal is to eliminate patients’ need to visit the hospital thus reducing facility cost.
“They are getting the care at a place that’s more convenient for them,” said Ronayne, board-certified pediatrician and health care provider at Orunje.
Launched in June 2015, Orunje is an online website that allows patients to request primary care in their home or office for a flat rate of $99 for a nurse and $169 for a physician.
“Patients work from eight to five, that’s typically the time that clinics are open,” said Dr. Pardeep Athwal, Co-founder and CEO of Orunje. Athwal said the service provides patients the flexibility to seek care at their convenience, and allows doctors to make extra money on their days off.
“For me, it doesn’t matter either way. I am leaving my home, I am going to the hospital, or I am going to his home,” said Ronayne. He said in the traditional health care model providers pay to use the hospital facilities, while patients are always paying for the utilities at their home, so there is no need to duplicate the cost.
“After all, hospitals were just workshops for doctors,” said Ronayne.
Patients can request health treatments for a variety of conditions from the common cold to pneumonia. Ronayne said current technology such as mobile sound units, and mobile x-rays also makes it easier for him visit and treat patients at home.
“My concern would be patient privacy,” said Pooja Jani, Preventive Medicine Resident at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Whoever is running this platform, they have access to a lot of patient’s data, in terms the location of the patients, what kinds of consultation people have put in…” Jani said she worries about patients’ private information being leaked from these types of on-demand health care models.
For patient R.S., who requested the service three months ago for back pain treatment, he is less concerned about the privacy issue because he was already sharing all the information with his primary doctor.
The main reason why R.S. requested the doctor through Orunje was because he needed the care immediately, as he was unable to walk to the hospital due to his back pain.
“The average wait time is close to three hours for an emergency room,” said Athwal.
According to the study by National Institute of Health in 2013, a typical emergency rooms cost about $1,200. Meanwhile, the average the emergency rooms visit co-pay can cost from $50-$150 with insurance, Athwal explained it makes sense for some to pay about $100 to have a doctor come to them.
The company doesn’t accept insurance, but Athwal said the company’s founders are working with insurance companies to cover the visits now.
Since June, the Orunje had close to 100 visits and raised about $100,000 from two investors. Athwal said Orunje’s primary goal is to to solidify their foothold in Chicago, but he also expressed interested in expanding into a mobile platform and telemedicine.
According to CB Insight, 42 mobile-centric digital-health startups have raised $1.3 billion across 114 deals, and funding specifically for on-demand health has totaled $692 million since 2011.
While Orunje is the first in the Midwest, two other companies have already established their market on both coasts. Heals is available in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and Pager has an active doctor network in New York.