In today's technology-driven marketplace, consumers enjoy an unprecedented level of on-demand access to a staggering array of goods and services. The convenience and immediacy of digital commerce has completely revolutionized countless heavyweight industries including real estate, transportation, dining, travel, and many more, but one sector that has been notoriously absent from these sweeping changes has been — you guessed it — healthcare.
This is the quandary that San Francisco-based startup Solv Health intends to address. Founded in 2016 by former Trulia executives Heather Fernandez and Daniele Farnedi, the company offers a mobile-friendly service that allows patients to find and book same-day doctor appointments at urgent care facilities in their local area, essentially eliminating long wait times and providing fast and simple access to last-minute healthcare.
The reasoning is quite simple:
The very nature of urgent care is to address unexpected health issues (e.g., earaches, wounds, stomach bugs, fevers, etc.) that are non-life-threatening, but do require some level of immediate attention.
Through the Solv mobile app, prospective patients can quickly and conveniently locate nearby urgent care facilities via a geo-targeted search tool, read patient reviews and book a same-day appointment at the facility that best matches their needs and budget. Patients can also upload their insurance documents via the Solv interface, and the system will then check to see if a particular urgent care facility accepts their coverage.
For patients paying out-of-pocket, Solv will provide pricing estimates for various treatments to eliminate any nasty surprises. With a focus on convenience and ease of use, Solv aims to make the process of booking doctor's appointments online as simple as booking dinner reservations through OpenTable.
Needless to say, the idea seems to have caught on. In April of 2017, the company received $6.25 million in first-round funding from Benchmark Capital, a Silicon Valley venture capital outfit. Bill Gurley, a general partner at the firm, was also an early investor in Uber and OpenTable, both companies that have challenged the status quo in their respective industries.
How do you currently set up an appointment with your Primary Care Physician?
From the looks of things, Solv has the potential to bring this same type of healthy disruption to the healthcare industry. The company engaged in a six-month private beta testing period in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and the results have been quite promising.
According to a Medium post published by CEO and co-founder Heather Fernandez, 80 percent of Solv users were able to see a health provider within two hours of booking, and their wait times averaged about half that of walk-ins. The company has since expanded their product offering to urgent care and medical clinic locations throughout the states of Texas and California.
While there are several online healthcare appointment-booking platforms that target primary care, Solv has made a strategic decision to focus on the $15 billion urgent care sector. The reasoning is quite simple: The very nature of urgent care is to address unexpected health issues (e.g., earaches, wounds, stomach bugs, fevers, etc.) that are non-life-threatening, but do require some level of immediate attention.
Wait times in urgent care centers are notoriously long, but they can be virtually eliminated using a simple smartphone app that helps patients obtain convenient on-demand access to affordable healthcare. In her Medium piece, Fernandez pointed out that 59 percent of millennials would prefer to visit an urgent care clinic instead of a primary care physician, and roughly half of millennials do not have a relationship with a primary care physician at all.
How do you get reminders (appointments, prescriptions, etc.) from your Primary Care Physician?
This tech-savvy segment of the population has grown accustomed to using smartphone apps for everything from booking airline flights to reserving a table at a restaurant, and according to a survey conducted by Salesforce, 71 percent of millennials would prefer to manage their healthcare through a mobile app as well. Statistics such as these give a clear signal that the healthcare industry is due for a major overhaul in terms of leveraging technology to increase patient engagement.
While it would be unwise to make predictions, a move towards consumer-driven, technology-enabled healthcare management seems to be in the cards not just for the urgent care sector, but for the healthcare industry as a whole. Technology platforms such as PatientBond remain on the cutting edge of these changes through utilizing robust, cloud-based applications that can help healthcare providers manage various key aspects of patient engagement, including appointment reminders, medication adherence and revenue cycle management.
While change isn't always comfortable, healthcare providers should view these groundbreaking technological developments as necessary in order to continue improving internal systems and patient satisfaction.