PushDoctor, the U.K. ‘on-demand’ service that enables you to have a video consultation with a doctor, has raised $8.2 million in funding — money it plans to use to develop the data side of its offering to improve the way it integrates with other healthcare providers and to significantly bolster marketing.
The round is being led by Oxford Capital Partners, and Draper Esprit, with Partech Ventures also participating. The company had previously raised $1.2 million in seed funding.
Operating in the fast-growing telemedicine space, PushDoctor offers the ability to video call a GMC-registered U.K. General Practitioner (GP) for a consultation ranging from 10 minutes to 30 minutes. It aims to get you ‘seen’ within 3 minutes of requesting a doctor and does this via a network of 7,000 or so partner GPs.
Specifically, the problem the burgeoning startup aims to address is that consumers are becoming much more accustomed to on-demand services that can be conjured up via their mobile phone, whilst the need to see a doctor face-to-face is often inconvenient or simply isn’t possible immediately due to limited capacity — meaning that many people don’t bother to see a doctor at all or put pressure elsewhere on health services, such as emergency care.
“We are working to provide patients with a greater choice – initially by offering simplified access to a registered GP, who in most ‘care journeys‘ acts as a patient’s guide, confidant and advisor. We have removed the restrictions; of access, consumption of time, and frequency of appointments,” PushDoctor co-founder and CEO Eren Ozagir tells me.
Now, of course, PushDoctor isn’t the only service of its kind, either in the U.K., Europe or elsewhere. However, one aspect where Ozagir says the startup differs from competitors, such as Dr Now or Babylon Health (which is actually developing a heavy AI part to its service, so has moved beyond simple video consultations), is that it doesn’t offer a subscription service, meaning that patients can only pay per consultation not take out a blanket subscription.
This, he argues — and contrary to today’s relatively large funding round — is a more sustainable model and provides the right doctor/patient incentives. The economics of a subscription model can potentially mean an on-demand remote doctor service would try to get you to use its app as little as possible once signing you up. Or so says Ozagir.
PushDoctor has also, thus far, shied away from working directly with medical insurance companies or employee benefit schemes, instead adhering to a purely B2C model.
“These services mainly employ the doctors on their platforms taking them away from the general healthcare network,” Ozagir says. “None of the thousands of doctors in our network are employed by us – we are allowing them to continue to meet the needs of patients in a number of ways; adding to the time they are available to consult not taking from it.”
One of the conditions for being a doctor registered with PushDoctor is that they must be actively employed in the NHS, the U.K. state-funded health service. But perhaps more interesting is the type of users the startup’s on-demand doctor service is attracting.
Ozagir says it’s proven popular with parents and parents-to-be who have regular questions during their pregnancy and early stages of parenthood, and want instant answers from a medical professional.
Another demographic is students who are living away from their regular doctor’s practice. And there’s those with busy lifestyles who struggle to manage their health alongside work-life commitments, and want access to a doctor that they can fit into their daily schedules.
“The last group is super interesting, because it is these people who wouldn’t normally consult a doctor at this stage of their condition’s presentation because they are deterred by the access-issue persistent in traditional parts of the eco-system,” he says.
“When presented with a modern alternative they choose to act upon their desire to deal with the issue earlier. This has huge potential to the future of a massive group of patients who leave conditions unchecked and undiagnosed for long periods of time and only deal with them when the ailment is more serious.”
That, Ozagir argues, also has potential cost savings for the NHS that, in some ways, startups like PushDoctor and private medical care as a whole compete with. “Every time a patient pays for a video consultation via PushDoctor it potentially frees up an in-person consultation on the NHS locally for somebody else,” he adds.