Every founder has a vision when starting a company. What is the vision and mission of my company, Rheumatologist OnCall? To break geographical barriers and help patients in need when they need it the most. I created the first specialty care telemedicine practice to serve patients with arthritis and autoimmune diseases.
Arthritis vs. Rheumatologists in the US
Healthcare was created to serve our people, but is that where we are now? Unfortunately, no.
In 2020, there were about 62 million arthritis patients in the US. This number is estimated to increase to 78 million by 2040. The US healthcare system is not prepared to care for these people due to an extreme shortage of specialists.
There are only 6,500 rheumatologists in the US, many only part-time. Most are located in metropolitan areas on the East or West Coasts, creating an extreme geographical barrier for people in the South, Midwest, and rural areas.
As a result of so many arthritis patients and so few rheumatologists, the average waiting time is four to six months. Patients in need of care are forced to suffer through many months as their condition deteriorates, causing severe and permanent damage. Add all that to the excessive cost of travel, arthritis treatment, labs, and for what? No more than ten minutes with a specialist. No rheumatologist can assess a patient’s situation and concerns in such a small amount of time.
The System is Not Working
This system is not working for doctors or patients, yet the healthcare system is doing nothing. That’s why I created Rheumatologist OnCall.
Rheumatologist OnCall is a private, direct care rheumatology clinic that runs primarily on telemedicine, revolutionizing healthcare in the US. It does this in 3 ways: breaking geographical barriers, making healthcare affordable, and creating an integrative medicine experience.
Breaking Geographical Barriers
Today, we do banking, shopping, and entertainment from the comfort of our homes: why not an online consultation?
Telemedicine offers quick and easy access to patients around the US, regardless of where they live. Telemedicine makes healthcare fast, convenient, comfortable, and safe, well beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially valuable for marginalized and rural communities, patients with mobility issues, and the immunocompromised. It allows every American to receive care.
Third parties, such as insurances, create many obstacles in the American healthcare system. This dramatically increases healthcare prices and leads to surprise bills and co-payments. As a result, most of the American population struggles to pay for something that could save their lives.
However, Rheumatologist OnCall solves this. As a direct care practice, we take out these third parties and build a direct patient-physician relationship. By doing so, we can ensure our prices are far more affordable than traditional systems and transparent.
Traditional systems view patients as bags of money, not people. Patients are left to suffer six months in pain for a 10-minute consultation if they’re lucky, just to be prescribed some pills. Rheumatologist OnCall does the complete opposite.
First, we ensure that patients are seen in at most one week. Their first consultation is sixty minutes, and every follow-up is thirty. Urgent appointments can be made the same or the next day, ensuring that our patients are treated as soon and as well as possible.
Second, we treat the whole person instead of just their disease. That’s why instead of just pills, we maximize the effects of recovery by implementing proven lifestyle techniques, including changes in diet, exercise, and mindfulness.
As Steve Jobs famously said, “the people who are crazy enough to change the world are the ones who do.” Let us join together to put our patients first. Let us create a society where we make healthcare easy, not hard.
Let us pave the path to the future of healthcare with Rheumatologist OnCall.
Diana M Girnita, MD, PhD
Founder & CEO Rheumatologist OnCall
Ana Girnita is Sophomore at Portola High School in Irvine, CA. She has experience in writing and research, including research on the relationship between nutrition and health in arthritis patients. She has contributed as an editor of the article.