Since 2020, telehealth visits have been rapidly adopted, and both healthcare providers and patients have been pleasantly surprised by how effective this type of healthcare appointment can be. For patients in metropolitan areas, telehealth can reduce barriers to receiving healthcare when a doctor’s office may require inaccessible transportation, and the time required for an appointment may disrupt work or child care. But when unaffordable healthcare costs are added to this equation, proactive medical appointments can become completely unattainable.
Enter Urban Docz, a budding startup based in Dearborn, Michigan, that is developing an easy-to-use, affordable telehealth platform with a greater sense of cultural competency for its users. We spoke with Urban Docz founders, Robin Wright King and Dr. Ali Bazzi, to learn more about their startup, their vision for creating greater accessibility to healthcare, and how MedHealth has supported their company’s path to commercialization.
Company mission: Improving reproductive health outcomes for women in marginalized communities
Questions and Answers
What is Urban Docz and what was the impetus for creating it?
Robin: Urban Docz is a highly accessible telehealth platform created to serve individuals who may be uninsured or cannot afford out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. We are firm believers that cost should not be a barrier to accessing care.
Dr. Bazzi: Through customer discovery, we realized there are people who simply do not have health insurance, and that includes government-assisted health insurance. For example, it can take months to receive Medicaid, and for pregnant individuals or people managing chronic conditions, the wait may be too long. One of the biggest reasons doctors like me see increases in morbidity and mortality is because of delayed or avoided care. Urban Docz will enable positive health outcomes by offering affordable, accessible healthcare.
Robin: We recognize how important it is to create a platform to connect patients to culturally competent healthcare providers who look like them. A provider’s ability to acknowledge their patients’ lived experience, beliefs, and values during treatment results in greater trust—and that’s really important.
Tell us more about the technology. How does it work?
Robin: We’re in the process of building our platform and plan to launch our proof of concept in March 2022. Check in at urbandocz.com for launch updates and be amongst the first to use our service. The platform will allow individuals to schedule video-based appointments to see healthcare providers, handle electronic health records, and document outcomes from appointments. Providers will also be able to prescribe medication as part of a patient’s care plan.
Dr. Bazzi: The platform will be HIPAA compliant and secure all patient information and transcriptions of their appointment conversations. As a provider, I believe that we can improve health outcomes through telehealth, and there is a way to do it in a safe, efficient manner. There will also be a billing feature that will eventually allow patients to book a single visit or take part in a subscription model for more regular appointments. The cost of a single appointment will be very affordable–between $15 and $30.
Who are your customers?
Robin: We conducted more than 300 interviews and found that early adopters for this type of technology will likely be young women between the ages of 18 and 35 who need reproductive healthcare.
Dr. Bazzi: We also found that the people who indicated a need for this platform were in underserved populations without health insurance or middle-income individuals who were not satisfied with their healthcare premiums. We do envision that the demand for our platform will expand to include a larger range of people after it launches.
How did you get connected to MedHealth? What has MedHealth done to help your business?
Dr. Bazzi: We joined TechTown Detroit’s Start Studio cohort, which helped us validate our idea, receive coaching, and participate in a pitch competition at the end of the program. We won first place, and the funding we received helped us establish our business as a limited liability corporation. Additionally, MedHealth events have helped us see what others in healthcare innovation are working on and care about, which helped us further refine our product. The networking and mentorship have been invaluable.
Robin: TechTown Detroit and MedHealth have helped us collect data to make informed decisions as we work toward our proof of concept. MedHealth also provided highly tailored support to help us refine our pitch presentation and white paper for a specific competition.
What’s next for Urban Docz in the months ahead? What are you working toward?
Dr. Bazzi: Our proof of concept will launch this March and serve 25 to 50 patients for a limited scope of issues so we can gain customer feedback and data. We hope to have a minimum viable product, which will be very close to the final version, by early fall. We’ll be adding a variety of features and new healthcare providers as we move through this process.
Robin: We also plan to continue networking with investors and others working in healthcare innovation who can support us as we work toward full commercialization later in the year.
What do you wish you knew when you were first starting that you know now?
Robin: We thought the commercialization process would go much faster when we first started this venture, and it has truly been a journey. I believe that the time we have taken to build a solid foundation based on data will prove to be well worth it when we launch.
Dr. Bazzi: We started out by thinking a feature-rich product would be valuable to all customers but have come to realize that starting simple is best. Urban Docz will start by solving a very specific problem, which will help us build trust and a good reputation with our initial customers. From there, we will add features to increase the value of our product. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.