In today’s medical landscape, finding a primary care physician to monitor your health can feel like a herculean task. You’ve got to navigate complex insurance networks and endure long waits to be seen. And even if you do manage to get in for an appointment, there’s no guarantee you’ll forge a connection with your doctor that encourages you to return.
But SteadyMD, an innovative telemedicine company, has found a way to make establishing a relationship with a primary care doctor easy, efficient, and (dare we say) enjoyable. Not only does SteadyMD’s Matching Engine ensure you’re paired with a board-certified physician who “gets” you and your health needs, but you also can virtually contact that physician as often as you need.
“If you want a long-term relationship in continuous care, you cannot get [what SteadyMD offers] in the brick-and-mortar world,” says Guy Friedman, SteadyMD’s CEO and co-founder.
An ongoing rapport with a primary care doc can be one of the most important investments you make in your health. “There are numerous studies that show that people who have a primary care doctor are healthier and live longer,” says Josh Emdur, DO, SteadyMD’s chief medical officer.
But in the traditional office-visit system, doctors often don’t have much time to spend with their patients. A typical primary care physician may have 2,300 patients and see 20 patients a day for about 20 minutes at a time.
By contrast, each doctor at SteadyMD sees a maximum of 600 patients, allowing time for individualized attention. After you sign up for a one-year membership ($99/month for individuals; $178/ month for families), you have an hour-long video call in which your doc takes a full medical history and develops a plan to monitor and manage your health, setting the stage for an enduring connection. There’s also a $199/month functional medicine option with a longer initial consult and an even more in-depth approach.
You then have unlimited access to your doctor via the SteadyMD app, which supports phone and video calls, as well as texting. According to Friedman, “Ninety-five percent of our interactions [between] the doctor and patient are via our text chat app.” It’s a convenient way to get questions answered, often within an hour.
If you have a problem that can’t be addressed virtually, SteadyMD’s medical assistants will find an appropriate local provider in your insurance network and handle scheduling.
THE PERFECT MATCH
The first step to match with a doctor is completing a quiz about your health goals, dietary preferences, and lifestyle. SteadyMD’s algorithm then presents you with several choices of compatible doctors.
The key insight of the company, according to Friedman, is the alignment of patient and physician interests. For example, if you eat plant based, you may get paired with Ankush Bansal, MD, a vegan doctor knowledgeable about the diet’s health benefits. If you’re a runner, you may get matched with Emdur, who runs two marathons a year. “Having someone who’s part of whatever community you might be in is a way to strengthen the doctor- patient relationship,” says Emdur.
When SteadyMD launched in 2016, the founders were particularly motivated to create a platform that could address the needs of athletes. SteadyMD’s COO and co-founder, Yarone Goren, is a trail runner who was inspired to start the company after a primary care doctor recommended the unthinkable: that he stop running completely in order to address pain in his foot.
Today, SteadyMD’s staff of physicians includes cyclists, triathletes, weightlifters, and more who help patients thrive within their sport. Aside from athletes, everyone from moms to military service members will find a doc well suited to them. Kids can also be matched up thanks to SteadyMD’s recently launched pediatrics service.
Because the SteadyMD model allows for regular check-ins, physicians can emphasize diet and lifestyle changes over medications as a first line of defense. “It’s just a simple text to make sure that someone’s following along a treatment journey,” says Emdur.
“The pitch of most health-care systems is, ‘Call me when you’re sick,’” says Friedman. “What we’re doing is trying to create a system that motivates the doctor to do preventative medicine [and] keep the patient healthy and happy.”
Rachel B. Levin is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer covering food, health, and sustainability. Follow her on Instagram: @rachelbethlevin.