Baylor Scott & White Health has agreed to partner with New York City’s Pager, a startup launched by an Uber co-founder that began as a doctor-on-demand tool but has matured into the delivery of specialty care and more complex home healthcare services.
The details of the partnership are still fluid, and neither organization would comment on a timeline or specifics of what the arrangement will look like. It’s also not clear whether it will launch system-wide or in specific markets. But it marks Pager’s second major partnership with a health system (it also has an arrangement with Envision Health in Southern Florida) and its first foray into Texas. It’s also expanded beyond a doctor-on-demand service, adding on-call nurses to triage patients that may have more complex medical needs than strep throat.
Baylor Scott & White’s sizable network of family doctors and specialists will use the Pager technology to broaden where they can see patients. Users will text a licensed nurse through the Pager app, who will then triage based on need.
“They didn’t want to reinvent the wheel and build technology in house, but they have a continued commitment to innovation,” said Dore Murphy, Pager’s vice president for marketing. “They went out and found who they consider to be the experts in the field to bring this execution to the market.”
Baylor Scott & White did not make available any of its executives for an interview, but did confirm the partnership. It declined to provide more specifics beyond a press release, as the ins and outs are still being negotiated. The two have signed a contract, however.
“At Baylor Scott & White Health, we are always looking for innovative ways to better meet the needs of the communities we serve,” read a statement from Nick Reddy, the system’s chief digital officer. “We are excited to offer consumers our services on-demand through Pager’s world-class technology. Together, we are streamlining the healthcare experience.”
Pager launched in New York City in May of 2014. The technology was built by Uber co-founder Oscar Salazar, and its other two executives included tech entrepreneur Gaspard de Dreuzy (who is its CEO) and venture capitalist Philip Eytan. The two Europeans were accustomed to accessible house calls overseas, and saw an opportunity to spread the culture stateside.
It began as a direct-to-consumer product; smartphone users would pay up to $200 for a visit from a physician and $50 for a telehealth consult. But Murphy says the company soon realized that health systems were perfect partners—they could adopt the technology and supply the physicians while providing opportunities for Pager to spread into new markets.
“Texas, as you know, is an incredible healthcare market. It’s an innovative healthcare market, and it’s a big market in general,” Murphy said. “It’s such an exciting place for healthcare right now and we’re really excited to have such a reputable provider partner there to get off the ground.”
On-demand healthcare is spreading rapidly throughout North Texas. Baylor Scott & White recently announced a similar partnership with PediaQ, a Dallas-based on-demand pediatric health startup. Mend, another on-demand service, was acquired by Children’s Health earlier this year. The region has also welcomed caregiver on-demand service Honor, which opened a pair of its home care education centers in Walmart locations in North Richland Hills and Arlington. Honor, based in San Francisco, melds education and wellness initiatives along with its on-demand services. More than half of its customers are seniors.
And, finally, another startup targeting seniors called KindlyCare launched earlier this month in California and in North Texas. The Bay Area-based elder care startup aims to create lasting relationships with its patients, eschewing a reliance on urgent care visits.