RIVER NORTH — In a throwback to a time when doctors made house calls, a new on-demand health care service aims to eliminate the need to visit a doc's office or urgent care clinic.
Launched this week in Chicago, Orunje, pronounced "Orange," allows patients to receive primary care in the comfort of their home or office for a flat fee. Using the platform's website, patients can request a visit from a board-certified doctor or nurse practitioner and receive medical attention when and where they need it.
Once a request is made, the service promises a doctor will arrive within two hours and can treat a broad range of ailments from the common cold to pneumonia. After performing a health assessment, the doctor can write a prescription, order lab tests or recommend additional care as needed.
Dr. Pardeep Athwal, co-founder of Orunje, said the service allows patients to avoid long waits, exposure to illnesses and other inconveniences of the traditional doctor’s office or emergency room.
"We can get cookies delivered at home, a hairstylist to your home, why not a doctor?" he said. "Nobody likes waiting several hours in a crowded emergency care clinic."
Athwal was inspired to create the service based on his own experience as a patient, not a doctor. While working hectic hours during his medical residency, Athwal remembered how difficult it was to schedule a routine physical while working 11-hour days.
Registering for the service is free, and the first visit costs $35. Subsequent visits cost a flat rate of $99 for a nurse practitioner or $169 for a physician. There are no additional charges for visits.
Some health insurance plans will cover Orunje visits. Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Aetna don't yet cover the mobile doctor visits, but Athwal said the company's founders are working to get the insurance giants to cover the visits now.
Orunje is available on weekdays from 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. and on weekends from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Like rides-on-demand service Uber, Orunje contracts with doctors instead of hiring them. The service currently has more than 40 licensed physicians and nurse practitioners ready for house calls.
During launch, Orunje will send doctors to the following neighborhoods in Chicago: Downtown, Streeterville, the Loop, River North, West Loop, Bucktown, Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Wrigleyville, Old Town, Gold Coast, Rogers Park, North Park, Edgewater, Uptown, Ravenswood, North Center, Roscoe Village, Avondale, Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Albany Park, River West, West Town, Noble Square, Ukrainian Village, Buena Park, Lincoln Square.
Orunje is currently developing a mobile app that will go live later this summer.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: