Like many digital startups, Pager originally pitched itself as the Uber for X–in its case, as the “Uber for healthcare,” a label that made all the more sense given that one of the company’s founders, Oscar Salazar, also helped to launch the real Uber.
But since Pager brought in a new CEO, it’s found that Uber isn’t quite the right analogy anymore.
When you order a car to pick you up, “you know that you want an UberX or UberXL,” Walter Jin, who now leads Pager, told me on the latest episode of my podcast, The Bottom Line. But when it comes to medicine, “I would surmise that people don’t know which care setting they really need to go to–whether it’s ER, urgent care, primary-care physician, specialist, just getting a . . . lab order or a prescription pharmaceutical. We don’t know. All we know is that we’re sick.”
If someone wants to go see a regular doctor, Jin adds, it can often take weeks to get an appointment. That “leaves us really just to wallow at home and suffer or we go to the ER”–which can be inconvenient and costly.
Pager has been trying to change this scenario by steadily broadening its offerings. Feeling yucky? Now, you tap into Pager and begin with a free interactive session (via chat, voice, or video) with a nurse at the company’s “command center.”
This setup was inspired in part by what Jin himself does when he’s under the weather: He simply reaches out to his brother, who is an emergency room doctor, by text or FaceTime. “He literally just tells me what to do,” Jin says. “We can help you in the same way that my brother does for me.”