Wharton student Puneet Maheshwari‘s child had an ear infection.
And, as any parent can tell you, hell hath no fury like a child sick. After combing through the Yellow Pages for the right doctor, Maheshwari was forced to go to the emergency room out of frustration and pay significantly more money than if he had found a specialist.
Like any good Wharton student, Maheshwari thought he could do better, and DocAsap was born.
The service, much like what OpenTable does for restaurants, searches for doctors based on criteria you define and allows you to schedule appointments with them. For example you could search for pediatricians that take Blue Cross in South Philly and DocAsap would give you all of the eligible candidates. Currently, the site only reviews Philadelphia-based dentists, however the site plans to expand to other markets and more types of physicians.
“We should have a really good coverage ratio in the Center City area soon,” said co-founder Vicente de Baca. After filling out the Center City area, DocAsap will then branch to the suburbs and, if everything goes according to plan, nationally. And unlike many Wharton grads, the duo plans to stick around for a while.
“We are very focused on building the Philadelphia market and plan on sticking around to see the development of the site,” he says.
The initial response from doctors has been positive, says de Baca, though DocAsap is taking its time rolling out the site. The company started as a service for patients, but it soon realized that there was a real demand on the physician side as well. Many doctors have problems with no-shows from people who schedule too far in advance or who just simply forget to call and cancel.
The company estimates that 30 percent of all appointments go unused. For a health care system that has seen costs rise sharply in recent years, increasing efficiency by 30 percent is an intriguing prospect. And, the Wharton name doesn’t hurt either.
“Doctors in the city are very welcoming to the homegrown business,” says de Baca.
Currently, all work is done in exchange for equity and the company has no outside funding. Though that isn’t something it has ruled out entirely. De Baca says that they would certainly seek angel investments before going to an institution.
The site makes money by charging doctors based on a variety of factors, including the type and size of practice. Free clinics and practices with patients that are mostly publicly insured are charged less than primarily privately insured practices.
Earlier this year, DocASAP attempted to make the bootstrapping easier on the wallet when it was a finalist in the Wharton Business Plan competition, though it failed to place.
“We heard there was some tension in the judging room about where we placed,” de Baca says. A first place finish would have netted the company $20,000.
He noted that they are pleased with the response since the site’s launch on July 2nd, and are simply focused on cornering the market in Philadelphia.-30-
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