Two USC alumni developed the app Heal with the intent of making health care more convenient.
Launched in 2014, Heal was founded by Renee Dua and Greg Drobnick. Their goal was to utilize locational technology to deliver medical specialists to customers.
Dua, the chief medical officer at Heal, participated in a fellowship at USC in 2003, with a focus on nephrology, the study of kidneys and hypertension. She also co-founded the application with her husband, and Drobnick, a USC graduate, later joined Heal as its external vice president of strategic initiatives.
As former students, the two recognized the lack of access to medical resources for students, and Dua aimed to set Heal apart from other medical options through availability and convenience in its services.
“Student health services [aren’t] necessarily open on nights or weekends [at suitable hours],” Dua said. “[Heal is] open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.”
Currently available in populated areas of California, including Los Angeles County, Long Beach, Orange County, San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area, Heal was envisioned to be a new system for health care, Dua said, with doctors available 365 days a year.
“It is the house call,” Dua said. “A patient can use an app to schedule a visit with a doctor as his or her personal location. It’s an essential change in the delivery of health care. Usually, you need to go to the doctor. What we’re doing is making that different. The doctor comes to you.”
The original idea behind Heal came from Dua, after she experienced a scare with her son’s pediatrician, who told her to rush her toddler to the emergency room after he developed a rash. Dua was told her son would be fine, but only after an eight-hour wait.
The increasing wait times to see doctors, Drobnick said, creates a need for services like Heal.
Doctor wait times in 15 metropolitan markets are an average of 24 days in length, a 30 percent increase from 2014, according to a study by Merritt Hawkins.
“At the push of a button, you can have an excellent doctor at your dorm, your sorority or fraternity house, your apartment — wherever it is you are,” Drobnick said. “Our promise to students is that we will arrive in under two hours.”
As goods and services are increasingly delivered, Drobnick recognized Heal as an innovative use of technology in a field that desperately needs it.
“We set out to create a service that would help streamline a lot and use great technologies … to make that process of seeing a doctor easier,” Drobnick said.
Drobnick also highlighted the utility of Heal for out-of-state or international students.
“The most important thing is that [students] need access to health care just like everybody else does, and you can use [Heal] to see a doctor for almost any reason, [except emergencies],” Dua said.