Doctor on Demand Launches Synapse, Integrated Virtual Primary Care Platform

Doctor on Demand, a San Francisco-based telemedicine firm, recently announced the launch of a new virtual primary care platform called Synapse. This system is designed to integrate within the US health plans’ and employers’ networks and provide more efficient virtual care options at a cheaper price.

By using Synapse, Doctor on Demand customers can link their existing provider networks with the company’s personal medical group much more easily. Doctor on Demand’s own medical group is being expanded to include nurse practitioners, dietitians, pharmacists, and care coordinators as well. This new staffing effort is being done with intent to expand the company’s current capabilities in urgent care and behavioral health to bolster services in areas such as chronic disease management and preventative health.

Hill Ferguson, Doctor on Demand CEO, claimed that this new staff will make use of the company’s full range of communication methods, including asynchronous messaging, video visits, and voice calls for regular check-ins, prescription renewals, and other care management services for patients with chronic illnesses.

“Our doctors have been asking us to enable them to do more things,” said Ferguson. “On the patient side we’re seeing more and more patients without a primary care doctor coming to use once every couple of months for a hypertension treatment.”

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Doctor on Demand is catering to a growing population in the US, with a survey from the Kaiser Health Foundation reporting that 26% of adult patients lack a primary care provider, and nearly double this number applying to millennials. Additionally, the number of primary care physicians in is in shortage according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, reporting a shortage of up to 49,300 providers by 2030. Noting that those with a primary care physician rarely visit more than once a year, Ferguson feels that virtual care offers a solution to this lack of medical attention.


“We’re not really taking full advantage of the physician [as the] quarterback of your health,” he said. “What our platform can do, and certainly what we’re designing for, is to make access so frictionless that you will engage in preventative care, you will seek treatments when you need it versus not, you will keep your care in one profile so that you’re not fracturing your health record.”

Doctor on Demand is working to leverage their services to create a ‘digital medical home,’ or a patient profile containing insights from the company’s physicians and connected devices and wearables through Google Fit and Apple HealthKit. These patient profiles will build upon the company’s existing electronic health record system and will be sharable with clinicians outside the company.

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Ferguson noted that Synapse is designed to have flexibility, allowing users to enter in specific needs of employers and health plan customers that may have interest in capabilities beyond Doctor on Demand’s initial virtual health services.

“A big part of our mindset when it comes to Synapse is putting virtual care at the center of your health,” he said. “The other players in the space don’t manage their own practice and there’s no formal clinical guidelines they’re managed by. You’re not going to do primary care successfully that way.”

The company was launched in 2013 to provide on-demand healthcare visits directly to patients. The company has since shifted its target audience more towards self-funded employers and plans looking to cut costs by utilizing telemedicine.

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Sources: MobiHealth News, MedCity News