Written by Andrew Seale
A few years ago, Dr. Amit Sharda was sitting in a packed walk-in clinic with a sick child when he got the idea for the MedHouseCall platform.
“You’re waiting forever… sick people all around you, I realized, man, there needs to be an easier way,” says Sharda, a chiropractor and entrepreneur. “I thought to myself, we need a technology platform for house calls.”
He points out that house calls are more common than people think in Canada. 42 per cent of Canadian family doctors make house calls, according to the 2010 National Physician Survey. And Ontario, in particular, has really worked towards incentivizing doctors, offering bonuses for house calls. But right now, there isn’t a digital platform that takes both doctors and patient interests into consideration, says Sharda.
So he built MedHouseCall, a mobile medical platform where users can check the availability of doctors, call them to their house and get approximate arrival times. Doctors, can tap into house call incentives and see their patients in comfortable settings.
“Like an Uber driver they can turn themselves on or off whenever they want to do house calls,” explains Sharda. “They're not dedicated, tied down or anything, they can set the radius with a slider within 1km or 10km and it’s completely flexible.”
The app has a built-in safety feature which checks in on both the doctor and patient, monitoring how long they’ve been together, and triggering the MedHouseCall team to follow up after a certain amount of time.
Once the doctor is done the house call, they just enter the diagnosis code and MedHouseCall works directly with the Ministry of Health to submit the billing through the app. They also have access to patient records through the platform.
“We call it the MedHouseCall ecosystem,” he explains. “We have integrated with one of the biggest government-funded open-source (Electronic Medical Records organization) – that way there's continuity of care.”
Currently, MedHouseCall is registered to bill in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. But Sharda’s starting with Ontario. It’s the market he’s most familiar with.
Plus, Sharda’s a busy guy and MedHouseCall isn’t his only endeavour. Outside of running the app and still practicing part-time as a chiropractor, he runs a digital agency.
“I’ve always been into computers and marketing – it started in grade four when my parents put me into computer camp instead of soccer camp,” he says. “A lot of these digital marketing agencies things I do for my own office, that's what allows it to be a success because business just comes on autopilot with digital strategies in place.”
He credits his disparate teams for keeping his businesses running fluidly. “I'm more like the orchestrator.”
MedHouseCall is currently being incubated between YSpace, York University's community innovation hub in Markham, and ventureLAB, the scale-up centre at IBM Innovation Space. “Both are helping me bring this thing to market.”
The next part of breathing life into the ecosystem will be recruiting doctors and getting downloads.
“This app has been about three years in development, a lot of back and forth with doctors and getting ideas, it’s evolved dozens of times,” he says. “We're hoping to launch within a month’s time but right now we’re trying to stimulate interest.”
Photo Credit: Cameron Bartlett (www.snappedbycam.com)