The Scoop: One of a frequent traveler’s worst nightmares is getting sick or injured far away from home. Singles, couples, and families may face language barriers, confusing ER experiences, or astronomical costs in another country. Air Doctor set out to solve that problem for travelers by helping them find quality medical care anywhere in the world. The app pre-screens medical practitioners and allows users to search for a provider who specializes in their ailment.
Yam Derfler has first-hand experience with falling ill abroad. In 2014, he got sick in a foreign country and spent hours in the hospital waiting for treatment.
He saw how much more complicated medical care was when travelers were away from home. If insurance did cover their ailment, the companies typically sent them straight to the ER, though their issues didn’t necessarily require hospital visits.
That’s why Yam co-founded Air Doctor, a company that connects medical professionals and international travelers to offer faster, higher quality care abroad.
“Abroad, you typically have to wait several hours for a doctor if you don’t have an emergency,” said Yuval Zimerman, Air Doctor Director of Marketing and Global Partnerships.
In addition to long waits, international travelers often have to pay exorbitant prices to visit hospitals in other countries. When Air Doctor’s founders and their families didn’t have significant medical issues that insurance would cover, they were stuck paying out of pocket for procedures.
“Usually, a hospital visit will cost $1,000 to $2,000 that has to be reimbursed. And the customer journey was awful,” Yuval said.
Air Doctor helps eliminate those negative healthcare experiences abroad. The company screens medical practitioners worldwide to ensure they’re compatible with international travelers.
The convenient Air Doctor app allows travelers to choose the doctor that best fits their needs, no matter where they are or what ailment they have. Users can even find certified medical professionals who will visit their hotel rooms.
Quickly Connecting Travelers with Doctors Worldwide
People are more likely to get sick while traveling than they are at home. Viruses replicate quickly in airports and train stations because so many people are packed into a small space. In an unfamiliar country, travelers may pick up an illness for which they have no level of immunity. They may also adopt habits that are more likely to make them sick, including poor sleep and vacation stress.
According to Michael Angarone, an Assistant Professor at Northwestern University’s School of Medicine, “The infections people get most frequently when they travel are viral upper respiratory infections — sinus congestion, cough, sore throats.”
If single, couples, or families get sick abroad, they can’t wait until they get home to seek treatment. Before Air Doctor, finding doctors could be a nerve-wracking process that could exacerbate illness in itself.
“You can order pizza from your couch. You can even get your car filled with gas. But if you were traveling abroad and got sick, there was no way to get adequate medical assistance,” Yuval said.
Air Doctor wanted to simplify finding the best doctor in every medical specialty that travelers could require.
The company decided that doctors couldn’t simply sign up to be part of the Air Doctor network; they needed to be screened first. That means travelers don’t have to worry that they’re connecting with unqualified doctors.
“We do a thorough recruitment process before they get into our network and also check that they have a valid license,” Yuval said.
Once doctors join the network, clients can rate their experiences with them. If clients have multiple negative experiences with a physician, they’re removed from the Air Doctor network.
Taking the Stress Out of International Travel
Singles, couples, and families may worry that they won’t find a medical practitioner on Air Doctor if they travel to a remote region. That isn’t the case.
“We’ve had people stuck in Cambodia with no hospitals around. We help people find the medical systems they need, even out there,” Yuval said.
Air Doctor — available on iOS and Android — is now well-established enough to help travelers find medical help wherever they’re going. The company first established partnerships with doctors in major tourist cities before expanding to small towns and cities. Now, Air Doctor’s global network includes more than 13,000 doctors in over 52 countries.
The doctor network has general practitioners and specialists, including gynecologists and dermatologists.
Beyond connecting travelers with medical professionals, Air Doctor also helps users save money.
The company allows people to connect with insurance providers so they won’t have to pay out of pocket for the healthcare services they need.
“With our insurance partners, you don’t have to pay anything. After the visit takes place, continue on your journey stress free and with no sudden and unexpected expenses. We at Air Doctor take care of the payment. There’s no claim or reimbursement process,” said Yuval.
If someone doesn’t want to access the app through their own insurance, they can also use it as a standalone service.
The Air Doctor interface is also intuitive and straightforward to provide users with answers quickly. They can type in their problem or choose a doctor category. They can also filter doctors by the languages they speak, distance from their location, and the price they charge for services.
“As soon as you find a doctor you feel comfortable with, you click ‘book,’ and you have a confirmation and a visit. It can also be a visit to your private home, hotel room, or their clinic. You can also choose a telemedicine visit,” Yuval said.
Air Doctor: A Business with a Mission
Yuval shared the story of a pregnant woman traveling abroad who started having aches and pains and used the Air Doctor app to choose a gynecologist.
“It turned out she was fine. She was happy, and she continued her vacation with peace of mind and heart. Someone who is pregnant has a lot of stress already, and we calmed her down,” Yuval said.
That client was also pleased with the 24/7 support she found on the app. If any client struggles to find a doctor, they can turn to the customer support team for help.
“Even if we don’t have an available doctor at the moment, we will still help you,” Yuval said.
Even though international travel has slowed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Air Doctor focuses on making its service even better when travel picks up again.
“We took the opportunity to reach out to insurance companies all over the world. We’ve created partnerships with them so travelers will have confidence when they go abroad. When travel begins again, we are certain that the number of travelers will surpass numbers from 2019,” Yuval told us.
Traveling abroad is a significant experience for many singles, couples, and families. Air Doctor ensures that people can find a doctor if they fall ill or get injured.
“We’re glad we’re able to help the travel community and pay it forward, and our future looks bright,” said Yuval.