SCOTT AMES, 27, of Center City, is co-founder with Dr. Grant Mitchell of Curbside Care in University City. The startup will provide on-demand calls by nurse practitioners and doctors to homes, offices and hotels in Center City beginning this month. Ames is a Wharton School MBA candidate; Mitchell is a graduate of Penn's School of Medicine and a Wharton MBA. I spoke with Ames.
Q: How'd you come up with the idea?
A: I was in Washington, D.C., and my fiancee got an ear infection. We went to an urgent-care center and waited three hours for a simple diagnosis and treatment. I thought: We can solve this. Every other industry's been disrupted, and surely we could do that in health care and bring practitioners to patients.
Q: Startup money?
A: We're in the Wharton Venture Initiation Program and used their co-working space to get started. Now we've been accepted into the [University City] Science Center's digital health accelerator and we'll have free space and mentors and a $50,000 state grant for specific needs. First Round Capital's Dorm Room Fund is also an investor.
Q: The biz model?
A: It's out-of-pocket: $149 for nurse practitioners and $249 for doctors. Parts of the market will pay a premium for a practitioner to come to them. We'll serve a few Center City ZIP codes and have a live Web portal.
Q: Value proposition?
A: A pain point for patients is long, unpredictable wait times. We also see more individuals with high-deductible health plans who don't have a co-pay and it's out-of-pocket until they hit a deductible. We also want to reduce the 30 to 40 percent of annual ER visits that are unnecessary.
Q: With whom do you compete, and what differentiates you?
A: You could view home health agencies as competitors, but they provide largely chronic, geriatric care. Telemedicine can be convenient, but it's not always the right type of care because 80 percent of diagnosis is physical.
Q: Your customers?
A: Consumers who are savvy with a smartphone, tablet or laptop. From there, we look at working professionals who have a tight schedule or who travel a lot.
Q: Biggest challenge?
A: I think we might be at a $150 price point if more Philadelphians were aware of us and [patients] knew they'd pay $75 or $100 for an urgent-care visit with a co-pay or insurance.
Q: How big a biz is this?
A: We have practitioners ready to do appointments. Grant and I are full time; the [nurse practitioners and doctors] have a core institution or practice and work for us as independent contractors. We work with outside software developers and will hire a chief technology officer when we find the right fit.