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September Edition 2021

Opear MD: Delivering Safer Care and Creating Healthier Communities

Opear MD: Delivering Safer Care and Creating Healthier Communities

Healthcare makes up a larger percentage of the economy in the U.S. than it does in Canada, the U.K., Australia or Japan. And yet, for many reasons, the system isn’t delivering the quality of care it can compared to its peers. One of the companies that is trying to address these systemic factors is Opear MD, an app-based platform for telehealth and house calls creating safer and more personal experiences for both patients and providers.

CEO Michael Demetriou founded Opear to support families when they most need a hand. His incredible journey began with childhood poverty and homelessness, but the strength and support of his single mother inspired him to dream big and help others. He put in the work and found great success in a thriving commercial real estate career, but Michael’s greatest achievement came when he started his family. Fatherhood transformed Michael’s life, but when his wife experienced an unexpected struggle with severe postpartum depression alongside the loss of her father, he learned a valuable lesson: you might be independent, and you might be “a giver,” but no matter who you are, we all need a hand sometimes. Later, when his daughter was going through craniosynostosis surgery, he gained a deeper appreciation of the role of each healthcare team member: physicians, nursess, administrative staff, and every member of a care team.

These experiences inspired him to dream of a safer and easier solution for reliable last-minute childcare, including visiting nurses for children with extenuating health or developmental circumstances.

Michael founded Opear MD as a childcare app in 2015 to be that source of care and support for families. Like all good things, the app has evolved since then, growing from childcare, to pediatric care, to tech-enabled healthcare for all ages.

“The need was much bigger, and we expanded into healthcare for all ages, including house calls, and later, in-app telehealth appointments,” explained Michael Demetriou, Founder and CEO of Opear MD.

Today, Opear’s app brings telemedicine and house calls to patients across the U.S., using technology to eliminate the pain points of an outdated healthcare system.

After recognizing Michael last month as one of the year’s 10 Most Inspiring Leaders, we caught up with him to dive deeper into Opear’s unique vision to transform telemedicine.

Reinventing Healthcare

Today’s healthcare system often prioritizes profit over providers. Without these individuals, there is no healthcare system at all.  “There’s never been a more important time for healthcare. And there has never been a more important time to reinvent healthcare,” said Mr. Demetriou. “We’re prioritizing the providers now as the healthcare system and not the hospital. We are saying that the provider is the healthcare system. If we don’t have them, we have nothing.”

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth and house calls have really taken off. This has helped protect both physicians and patients, who are able to access quality healthcare services from their homes within minimals exposure to pathogens.

“We don’t want to recreate the wheel,’ said Demetriou. ‘We want to enhance it. And that’s what we’re fundamentally doing here at Opear MD.”

Although Michael first found success in the real estate industry, his focus has expanded to creating healthy communities with Opear. “We’re not just going to build concrete jungles anymore. We’re going to create smart cities through technology. We are going to use our real estate relationships and go to our managing partners and managing agents, as well as our sponsors and owners and say – ‘well, you’re going to put a pool in, while that’s fun and great, now you can also subsidize healthcare for your tenants’,” said Demtriou. And that’s what Opear MD is building towards – creating healthy communities. “We’re not just a telemedicine company. We are a true healthcare marketplace.”

According to the CBO, more than 31 million American citizens are uninsured as of 2020. This number is expected to increase significantly, as public insurance coverage is not easily available in many states and more and more workers enter the ‘gig economy’. Studies also show that African Americans and Hispanic Americans are more likely to be uninsured. And when it comes to deaths due to lack of healthcare, The Institute of Medicine (IOM) found that an average of 18,314 Americans aged between 25 and 64 years die annually due to the lack of health insurance. So for a major portion of the American population that does not have insurance, fee-for-service is crucial.

Opear charges $75 for a telemedicine visit and $150 for an in-home follow-up visit if deemed necessary. This way Opear MD protects the safety of the provider, as well as helps the patient feel comfortable with the nurse or physician entering their home. Patient gets to know their care provider in advance before opening their door to a new provider.

Opear MD is the only company in the market that allows people to connect directly with their practitioner through its vast network – by name. That is incredible not only for the provider themselves but for the patient’s comfort, because a patient can forge ongoing relationships with the same doctor whether for follow-ups or future issues. “You could establish a true baseline with a care provider and follow up with that same exact provider who knew you best only at Opear,” stressed Mr. Demetriou.

Q. What is your focus, and how is Opear MD revolutionizing healthcare?

Opear is a telehealth and house-call platform designed to bridge the gap between digital and in-person healthcare. Unlike traditional telemedicine, there is no virtual waiting room and appointments are never randomly assigned. Instead, independent providers use the platform to host their own digital healthcare practice, connect with new and existing patients, conduct exams and write prescriptions from right within the app, and even request medical rideshare for house calls in the New York area.

On the patient side, users still get the convenience of digital health, but without sacrificing the personal choice and ongoing relationship they’d have with a PCP. In the end, Opear MD is about letting users take charge of their own experience: giving patients more ownership of their health and providers more control over how they practice medicine.

Q. How has the role of digital health changed during COVID, and what’s next?

Anyone with kids knows the anxiety of going to the doctor and leaving with worse bugs than you went in with.  When COVID hit, everyone else caught on quickly. Telehealth surged almost immediately, driven by patients who didn’t want to risk COVID exposure but still needed treatment for colds, flu, you name it. As telehealth regulations relaxed to encourage remote care, we had to work quickly to serve patients across the country. That said, sometimes there’s no substitute for in-person exams and tests. House calls were previously expensive and hard to come by, but with Opear, doctors can seamlessly extend a video prescreen into an in-home visit if needed.

But as the pandemic begins to wane, digital health isn’t going off anywhere. Patients and providers have gotten a taste of a system without crowded waiting rooms or rushed, 2-minute appointments, and you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.

Q. Who are you working with to help you expand this vision?

One of the biggest challenges in telehealth is hopping between doctors who aren’t familiar with your medical history. We are very excited to announce that Opear has just launched a partnership with Health Gorilla to integrate Patient360, a solution that enables providers to retrieve medical records electronically from over 65,000 care sites seamlessly. It’s a huge step towards making digital health less transactional, and more sustainable, allowing online doctor-patient relationships to work long term. 

The Leader Upfront

Michael Demetriou, Founder and CEO

Michael founded Opear MD as a childcare app in 2015. He is also the Senior Executive Vice President of Kensington Vanguard National Land Services LLC, which is one of the largest independent full‑service national title insurance agencies in the country providing commercial and residential title insurance, settlement, escrow and 1031 exchange services.

“Opear is a telehealth and house-call platform designed to bridge the gap between digital and in-person healthcare.”

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