Friday, December 4, 2015

How to Get the Best of Both Worlds

A lady with a cold phoned for a doctor at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday.

From my home to hers in the Hollywood Hills required a thirteen mile drive through city streets (twice that on the freeway). I go during the rush hour but only for patients a good deal sicker. In her case, I would schedule a visit for 9 or 10 p.m.

Sadly, the lady hadn’t called me but Get Heal, a new service that promises a housecall within an hour and charges a flat $99.

It pays doctors $75 an hour, lower than the going rate, but provides a medical assistant who drives, a delightful perk. Unfortunately, the dispatcher explained, the medical assistant lived near my destination. Would I make the drive myself? Heal would pay extra. If not, Heal would send a cab.

I chose a cab. Fifteen minutes later an Uber car pulled up. We crept through traffic. The medical assistant was there when we arrived. I cared for the patient. We crept back.

Heal earned $99 for my two hours’ work, but I earned $150. The Uber driver earned half that. The driver, dispatcher, and a dozen other employees collected their salaries. Get Heal has an office in Santa Monica and an impressive web site.

Everyone agrees that $99 for a housecall is a money-loser. Perhaps this patient was an outlier, but none of the eight Heal housecalls I’ve made has taken less than an hour door-to-door.

If you need a housecall in Los Angeles, phone Get Heal and ask for Doctor Oppenheim. You’ll get the best of both worlds until one of us goes out of business.

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