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Dude, where’s my doctor? Ashton Kutcher-backed NYC health startup lands $14M

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Doctor-on-demand service Pager raised the funds from the movie star’s venture-capital fund and another investment group.

Pager a Manhattan-based doctor-on-demand service, has raised $14 million in Series A funding from Maryland-based New Enterprise Associates and Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures.

The funding will be used to expand to cities outside New York, including San Francisco within two months, and to upgrade the company’s technology, said co-founders Gaspard de Dreuzy and Philip Eytan. Mr. de Dreuzy and Mr. Eytan founded the company in May 2014 with Oscar Salazar, a co-founder of Uber. Other investors in the round included Goodwater Capital, Lux Capital and Montage Ventures.

The service, available in all five boroughs, gives patients the option of forgoing the emergency room or an urgent-care center and summoning a doctor for a house call for treatment of, for example, common infections such as bronchitis. A home visit costs $50 for first-time users and $200 thereafter. Patients can consult a doctor by phone for $25 and exchange text messages with photos in the case of a condition such as a rash or insect bite.

The goal, said Mr. de Dreuzy, is delivering care at the time and place that people need it.


“Pager is really focused on trying to connect patients with care providers for on-demand and in-person care,” said Mr. de Dreuzy, the company’s chief executive. “In other words, we’re trying to provide better access to care for people by connecting them with the right type of care and care providers and then delivering care wherever they are and when they need.”

The company said it has treated “thousands of patients,” but its founders declined to be more specific. Mr. de Dreuzy said Pager does not disclose revenue figures.

The startup isn’t currently in any insurance networks and bills health plans as an out-of-network provider, though it is getting closer to deals with insurers, Mr. Eytan said. Pager has partnered with a major New York City health system, which it declined to name, and plans to use that partnership to make its service more affordable.

“That health system will help us negotiate rates that are favorable for our in-network offering,” said Mr. Eytan, president of Pager.

Pager is far from alone in the care-on-demand market. There’s Heal, another “Uber for doctors,” which launched in February in Los Angeles and expanded to San Francisco in April, charging $99 per visit. A number of telemedicine applications provide remote doctor services, including Dallas-based Teladoc, which raised $180 million in its initial public offering this month. Other telemedicine competitors include Doctor on Demand, MDLive and American Well.

The company’s founders said Pager is different from those companies because of its ability to meet on demand and in person, not just over the phone.

“The scope of what telemedicine can do is still very narrow,” Mr. de Dreuzy said. “Our approach is a little bit different. The first problem that we’re solving is to understand the patients’ needs and then match them with the right type of care at the right time.”

Based on his financial commitment, Mr. Kutcher seems to agree.

“Pager’s business model is incredibly disruptive: It’s health care in your pocket,” said Mr. Kutcher, a founder of Sound Ventures, which co-led the round, in a statement. “Today, health care in America can be terribly inefficient and impersonal, and people aren’t necessarily getting the experience they want.”

Read more at Crians New York Business

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