On-demand apps have changed the way consumers travel (Uber), dine (OpenTable) and shop (Amazon.com) but not how they manage their health.
A recent cascade of apps, however, aim to change the often-arduous healthcare system. Solv, a new mobile app based here, intends to connect millions of Americans to find and book a same-day doctor's appointment at an urgent care clinic.
"(Healthcare) is the biggest market, and it is clear something is wrong with it," says Bill Gurley, a general partner at venture-capital firm Benchmark Capital, one of several investors to pump $6.25 million into Solv. "Consumers want to have a remarkable experience and a quick response — they don't want to guess from 50 choices in an area."
In Gurley's financial support, Solv has a powerful proponent. His venture firm was an early investor in Uber — its stake in the ride-hailing company, now at 20%, is worth billions of dollars.
While the Uber investment has enriched Benchmark, it has been a source of negative publicity because of that company's combative culture and its embattled CEO, Travis Kalanick. Gurley said Uber's search for a chief operating officer is an "ongoing process" — "We are talking to candidates" — and that Kalanick maintains support from the company's board of directors.
The Solv app informs patients everything from how long a wait they can expect for an appointment to whether their insurance is accepted — down to out-of-pocket costs. From the providers' perspective, Solv's scheduling software includes the ability to manage reservations and reduce wait times.
What Solv proposes to solve isn't unique. At least three other start-ups — Curely, Concierge Key Health and Teladoc — are designed to match patients and physicians at a time when the healthcare industry continues to experience a primary care shortage.
This comes as little surprise to Gurley, who deems the cyber-stampede typical of a fledgling market. "For every good idea in tech, there are about 10 companies claiming to have a solution," he says.