Carol Blonder hosts the News Talk radio show at KFNX radio station
Ian Vasquez is the chief operating officer at Scottsdale, AZ-based MeMD.
Carol spoke with Ian about MeMD's revolutionary healthcare technology.
Carol Blonder: Now we have Ian Vasquez and he is with MeMD. Welcome to the show!
Ian Vasquez: Thank you Carol, and congratulations on five years.
CB: Thank you very much. Now Ian, I want you to tell everybody - this is a very interesting concept - so I want you to tell everybody what you do.
IV: Great. Well MeMD is a service - where I hear you coughing a bit - could actually be of service to you. MeMD is an Internet healthcare service, where you can go onto the MeMD website, login, create an account and request a visit with a medical provider over the web. Instead of having to leave your home or drive to the doctor's office you'll be able to do a videoconference with the provider right there online, typically in less than 30 minutes.
CB: Listen up guys! That's pretty cool - nobody can get out anymore - it's perfect.
IV: It's great. In fact it is very affordable compared to going to your regular doctor and saves you a lot of time and money. It's very convenient.
CB: All right, now lets write this website down, which is M-E-M-D dot com. Now the number to call - would you call in too?
IV: Yes, you can call in and our staff will help to enter your visit online.
CB: Okay, so the number to call them would be 855-MEMD-NOW. That's 855-636-3669. Now I'm having everybody write that down right away because this is very interesting and you're going to want to hear what Ian has to say. It's new! It's different! Right?
IV: It is - but it is the same medical care you've always received, it's just using the Internet now. You know everything else has gone online; you can buy books online, you can pay your taxes online, why wouldn't you be able to go see the doctor online as well?
CB: That's an interesting thought. Where did the concept then come from?
IV: You know I wish I could take credit for it myself, but it was actually created by Dr. John Shufeldt. Dr. Shufeldt is someone who 20 years ago, pretty much started the Urgent Care industry. He started one of the Nation's largest urgent care chains. Now 20 years later he really saw that after he had developed this urgent care strategy to treat patients going to the ER, that didn't necessarily need to be there, he really saw that there were a lot of patients who were going to urgent care as well, who really don't need to be there either.
CB: Tell me about it - that's why you have so many long lines!
IV: Exactly. The common cold, like you might have, or the flu, season allergies, sinus infections...!
CB: So it's not to go to the gynecologist!
IV: Right. It's not a replacement for your primary care physician, but for example if you are on vacation, and on that topic - forgot your birth control pills and needed to get a script called in, you could use MeMD for that service.
CB: Ahh, now see that's perfect.
IV: It's not a full replacement to your primary care provider or for women a gynecologist, but to help fill in the gaps and to help provide a solution when you fall ill.
CB: Right, I mean that's happened to me. When I was sick the other day, thank god I knew a doc! I've had a few docs on the show. It's great I now have this information.
IV: Sometimes that's the way we describe it. You know a lot of people have a friend that's a physician or a nurse practitioner, and when they get sick they'll just call them on the phone and say 'Hey - here's what I've got. I've gotten this before, I had this prescription before and it worked, can you call me in a script.' This is just a more formal way of doing that for all those people.
CB: Without imposing on anybody!
IV: Exactly, and at a very affordable rate compared to when you go to the doctor.
CB: Alright, so the number to call this is area code 855 MeMD-NOW, or you can go 855-636-3669, and the website is www.MeMD.com.
CB: Okay, so you have been describing the kind of patients - anyone really is a candidate, right?
IV: Really anyone is. What we've seen is that this is typically something that's great for parents that are on the go or have a job. For example when your child gets sick and you're working you want to take them to the doctor. That typically means for most people that you're going to miss a whole day at work. All that lost income, or maybe you can't afford to miss a day at work, this can be a great way for those parents to get their kids treated more quickly and in less time. Other folks as well, I mean sometimes people have just been putting off care. They have something that's kind of been nagging at them, they figure they'll just get by because they don't want to take all the time to go to the doctor and they don't want to spend the money. People that are uninsured - this is great for them as well.
CB: And you say that why?
IV: Well we don't require insurance, it's completely self-paid, it's one low price when you come in online and request a visit. And it's really one low price that's a low price even if you do have insurance; it's typically cheaper than your co-pay. And if you do not have insurance it's certainly cheaper than going in and paying the self-pay rate at a physician's office.
CB: I find them for you guys. This is a pretty interesting thing. Now that website is MeMD.com. That's me like M-E, me, myself and I. MeMD.com and that number to call is 855-636-3669 and that's 855-MeMD-NOW. So that's kinda neat. How long does the process take?
IV: Typically the entire process takes 20 to 30 minutes or less. What's involved in that is you go to the website, create an account and you enter some basic information about yourself. Those same forms that you would fill out when you go to the doctor, we have online versions of those where you fill out your medical history, your family medical history and your chief complaint today - like what you're sick with today, what symptoms you've been experiencing, etc. You'll then receive a call back from one of our Care Coordinators who helps you set up your videoconference and makes sure your webcam is working. You use a webcam in order to see the provider.
CB: So it's like Skype?
IV: Exactly, it's a lot like Skype. Then after you pay for and request your visit it is typically between five and fifteen minutes that you'll be waiting for the provider to show up on the other side of the exam. So all in it typically takes about 30 minutes or less.
CB: Wow - and you've been saying it's very affordable, so how much does it cost?
IV: It's $39.95 per visit, no membership fee or additional cost beyond that.
CB: Hello! That's crazy!
IV: Yeah, you know the typical average co-pay for people who do have insurance is $50. For the ER for example the typical co-pay is over $100. Now if you drive and you don't have insurance into the doctor it's going to be much, much more than that.
CB: How about doctors, what kinds of doctors are on there?
IV: Great question. You know they are actually the same doctors that you would drive in to see. Many urgent care practices, those same ones that you would drive in to see, we've signed them up in our network to be the recipients of these patients. Whenever their waiting room is not busy they'll pop over and do an exam on MeMD in their regular flow. So these are the same doctors you are seeing regularly.
CB: I have a question.
CB: How do they take a temperature?
IV: Well all of that is actually self-reported information. So if you can take your own temperature, you have your own thermometer, you can just punch that into our website and you let the physician know what your temperature was.
CB: Okay, so how does it work, you're just telling them the symptoms, right?
IV: Yes. Visits usually begin with patients voicing their symptoms.
CB: And you talk to an actual live - when you're doing it through the Skype - you're talking to a doctor.
IV: Just like you would in the doctor's office - yes, exactly.
CB: For $39.95?!
CB: And there is no other fee?
IV: No other fee.
CB: No other fee what-so-ever? No membership fee?
IV: Yeah, there's no membership fee.
CB: Alright guys, this is for you, ready? MeMD, that's M-E-M-D dot com. And the number to call is area code 855-636-3669, and there is no insurance necessary. Lets talk about that again.
IV: Right, so you pay on the website. Now if you do have insurance, and you have one of those health savings accounts or flexible spending accounts that have a debit card attached to them, this is a qualified medical expense. So you can use that card, and use those pre-tax dollars that an HSA or FSA provide you.
CB: So what's on the horizon for MeMD?
IV: Well there are actually really a lot of exciting things. One of the big ones is that in addition to offering this to the general public, as we are doing, we're offering this as a solution to employers. So on the theme of networking amongst companies, we're offering this as a solution to employers where they can save on their over-all healthcare costs by reducing the costs of their ER visits and urgent cares visits that their employees go to; as well as providing a really great benefit to their employees that they'll really value and make good use of.
CB: Wow, so how do they get implemented with that, with you?
IV: You know same thing, they can go to our website as well, there is a form to fill out there and they can call us as well to get signed-up for the service.
CB: Wow, this is very cool! I can't believe it, I've gotta get up on the site and do it. So it's Me, M-E, MD dot com and the phone number to call is area code 855-MeMD-NOW. That's 855-636-3669. It's me, like me, me, me - MeMD.com!
IV: Thanks Carol.