Rocket Doctor is soaring these days with three big accomplishments in recent weeks.
The Toronto-based medtech startup landed a place in the UCLA Health TechQuity Accelerator, wrapped up NY Tech Week with a win at the MedStartr VC pitch contest and surpassed 300,000 virtual patient visits.
“These wins can help us grow,” said Dr. William Cherniak, CEO and co-founder of Rocket Doctor. “Our intent is to really scale up our presence in the U.S. and grow in both California and New York.”
The company, which was launched in 2020, assists doctors in establishing independent virtual care practices that cater to a wide range of patients. The platform organizes these doctors into a system of care, extending their services directly to patients in remote areas, where access to a primary care provider is often limited.
“In a nutshell, we’re like Shopify for physicians,” Cherniak said. “We also have the software to empower their medical practices, creating a marketplace approach. We integrate AI-driven digital health solutions and Bluetooth-enabled medical devices, essentially evolving the concept of telemedicine."
Rocket Doctor physicians provide a wide range of services, from treating common illnesses like coughs and colds to managing complex conditions such as anxiety, hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and cancer. The platform also offers specialized care in psychiatry, addiction medicine and cardiology.
“We're not a virtual clinic or an urgent-care service, and we don't employ doctors in Canada,” Cherniak said. “We enable doctors, including specialists, to practice within our unique system. This includes addiction programs, 20 psychiatrists and other specialists who use a single cloud-based electronic medical record (EMR) for integrated patient care."
Cherniak's inspiration for launching Rocket Doctor is rooted in a desire to address health-care disparities. His journey began with non-profit work in Africa, specifically with the Bridge to Health NGO.
“I began my journey working in remote and underserved communities, grappling with the challenge of delivering health care where even basic necessities like clean water and electricity were scarce,” he said. “It was during this time that I stumbled upon high-tech devices as a potential solution and it nudged me further into the tech sector.”
As an emergency room physician in both Canada and the United States, Cherniak witnessed patients coming to the hospital for conditions that could have been managed outside the emergency department, especially those related to outpatient primary care issues.
“The idea was to merge high-tech devices with virtual care, providing people access to care outside of the emergency department,” he said. “This way, we could save them unnecessary hospital visits and ensure they receive better care.”
The California-based UCLA Health TechQuity Accelerator program “supports early-stage startups in improving health equity among underserved and vulnerable populations,” primarily within the U.S. Medicaid system. Medicaid is the U.S. public insurance system for individuals at or below the poverty line.
“Our acceptance into the UCLA Health TechQuity Accelerator program is rooted in the parallels between providing care to Medicaid recipients and our work,” Cherniak said. “It entails building local, context-specific partnerships with diverse communities we serve, and we aim to establish connections with community-based organizations, UCLA Health and other LA entities.”
The MedStartr VC pitch contest is designed for companies involved in AI-related work, which aligns with Rocket Doctor's focus on leveraging AI, data science and predictive analytics tools.
“Winning the contest positions us for a potential quarter-million-dollar investment from the group,” Cherniak said. “We're currently in discussions with them to move this forward.”
Cherniak said that funding would be instrumental in scaling the company’s presence in the U.S. and helping to advance its goal of providing accessible virtual health care.