Dr. Phil Startup Brings Check-Ups Online

The doctor will see you now ... on your smartphone

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TV personality Dr. Phil on Tuesday unveiled a new start-up company that will allow patients to video chat with doctors instead of visiting them in the flesh.

Dr. Phil, whose actual name is Phillip McGraw, is an adviser to the company, Doctor On Demand.

“There are 1.2 billion ambulatory care visits every year, and the vast majority of people are walking in for something like colds or urinary tract infections that are very amenable to an initial consult over video,” Adam Jackson, Doctor on Demand’s co-founder and chief executive officer told Bloomberg Businessweek.

Each online video chat appointment with a doctor costs patients $40; doctors get $30 of that, with the company taking a $10 cut. Doctors can diagnose illnesses and prescribe medication, but the app and website are not recommended for any patient experiencing a potentially life-threatening emergency medical condition. Doctors also cannot use it to prescribe medications like sedatives and narcotics.

Doctor on Demand is currently available for patients in 15 states, including large states like California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Texas. The company has more than 1,000 doctors available for video consultants one or two days a week, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. The company trains physicians on how to use the service, and covers other logistics like patient questionnaires and malpractice insurance.

[Bloomberg Businessweek]