Paula Muto, Founder, and CEO at UBERDOC tells us how it helps people get better, and faster by providing priority appointments with top doctors.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Paula Muto: My family is great, thank you. My husband and I are both surgeons, trained during the AIDS epidemic, so maintaining universal precautions is our standard, at work and home. Our household has been careful, my NYC daughter came home when Broadway closed (aspiring actor) and my son graduated virtually from UVA and is at home as well, working at a hot startup (Dust) and itching to move to Boston.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded UBERDOC.
Paula Muto: I am a surgeon, like my father, brother, two uncles, and husband practicing in Massachusetts for a collective century. So you might say I take it personally when healthcare fails. I have always thought that practicing good medicine is easy, just do what’s best for the patient. But our current system makes it impossible; instead of giving priority to the needs of employers, pharma, and legislators. Why should having access to a good doctor, an experienced specialist, in particular, be difficult? Why couldn’t we use technology and make it simple? And why can’t we lower the price to make it affordable? That’s how UBERDOC was born.
How does UBERDOC innovate?
Paula Muto: By eliminating the typical barriers to see a doctor — no phone calls, no insurance hassles, no referrals, no restrictions, and no surprise bills. We have also redefined what it means to see a doctor, no longer just in person but via telemedicine. We give doctors the tools they need to create and maintain their digital office and the patients the tools they need to find the best doctor for their needs when they need it.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Paula Muto: Covid changed everything. It showed us our system is too complicated and unable to change. It also caused the rapid adoption of telemedicine, which catapulted us forward as more and more doctors needed to connect with their patients. Now, we have over 10,000 appointments available every day to accommodate the huge pent-up demand for services.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Paula Muto: Our platform, and revenue, depending on patients. During the pandemic, patients were largely avoiding elective care and staying home, so we decided to focus resources on building our network of doctors rather than advertise to patients. Now with the demand so high, we want people to know about it.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and your company in the future?
Paula Muto: I have always had a stressful job: always on-call, two kids, and a successful practice. But luckily, being a woman, you get used to multi-tasking. You find your strength in your family, friends, and community.
I also play squash to exercise and meditate every day. I am passionate about medicine and know we have a very good idea at the right time. I am positive about the future of UBERDOC and healthcare.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Paula Muto: Direct-to-consumer healthcare is expanding, as is telehealth and digital health. There are several large companies that make appointments, provide telehealth, and even offer easy access to prescriptions. Most of them exist in the wellness space or men’s health. But no one is really thinking about illness — when you or your family needs a specialist, you can’t afford to wait on hold or have the right job or right insurance. Everyone deserves equal access to the best. And we have close to 4,000 specialists, 20 times more than two publicly traded companies. But if the system suddenly improved, insurance rates came down, prices became transparent, and big business and government decided to eliminate bureaucracy, there wouldn’t be a need for UBERDOC, but we would still win.
Your final thoughts?
Paula Muto: We are a small company with a big idea. Female-founded, physician-led, trying to solve a problem not even the richest companies know how to solve. But we look at things differently and have created a vast and growing network of doctors with the skills and means to make patients better. We just get all the obstacles out of the way and make it happen.