How this husband and wife team are handling LA's fastest growing health tech startup

by Patrick Hechinger
February 9, 2016
 
There's an Uber for everything these days.
 
At this point you've probably heard of the app — the “doctors on-demand” startup founded here in LA. The service allows users to schedule house calls from medical professionals on their smartphone without complicated payment hassles.  
 
The service is setting new record numbers of requests nearly every day and has grown 300 percent over the past few months. Heal is currently hiring more doctors in order to keep up with the massive growth while also eyeing a national expansion at the end of the year. 
 
The stress of this rapid growth is exemplified by the fact that the Heal app is only 15 months old — a vulnerable stage for any company. Luckily, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Renee Dua has a co-founder whom she knows will help her bear the growing burden — her husband. 
 
While running her own nephrology private practice in 2014, Dr. Dua envisioned a more streamlined, cost-efficient healthcare system for both patients and doctors. She called upon her serial-entrepreneur husband Nick Desai (formerly with Kumu Wellness) and the duo conceptualized a new way to bring the old-fashioned house call to the 21st century. 
 
“When Nick and I spoke with [Built In] last year, this idea was more of a theory and it looks like we have proven a concept,” said Dr. Dua. “We experience incredible gratitude from patients and, from the perspective of a doctor, I cannot tell you how rewarding that is. Being a doctor right now in this healthcare system is frustrating, intimidating and disappointing, yet I personally go on house calls and my experiences with patients have been anything but.”
 
And while most working professionals take solace in their return home after a long day at the office, Dua and Desai don’t have that luxury. Both were raised by parents who had worked together and had grown up with very little separation between home and office.
 
“Is it annoying to talk about work constantly? Maybe, yea,” said Dr. Dua. “But we know we have a great product, we know we can be very successful and we’re going to do it right. Nick is the CEO of this company and his leadership and his history of leading companies is invaluable. I have grown to respect him, from that level, a million-fold throughout this.” 
 
The couple’s comfort in their professional and personal balance has resonated with their employees as well. Working for a husband and wife combo may seem intimidating to some, but Heal has built its own family around its founding duo. 
 
“I’ve asked every single person at the company, ‘How do you feel about this? Do you think it's disruptive? Do you think it will be a problem?’ And I’ve never once gotten any feedback that’s negative. In fact, to our employees it shows we are wholly invested, we are a team on and off the hours, and we care very much about it — so much so that we’ve dragged our family into it.” 
 
Dr. Dua said Heal is still working on perfecting the house call in California before launching as many as 10 or 12 major cities when they begin their national expansion at the end of the year.
 
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