Paula Muto, M.D., F.A.C.S., is the founder and CEO of UBERDOC, and the Director of the Vein Center at Mutosurgical. A graduate of Amherst College and New York Medical College, Dr. Muto is a fellowship-trained vascular surgeon by specialty who also practices general surgery.
Paula is an advocate of disruption in healthcare and speaks passionately on many issues regarding transparency in healthcare, patient rights and ensuring patient access to the care they need and deserve. The parents of two children, Paula resides in Andover, MA with her husband Jonathan Gordon, M.D., who is also a surgeon.
Q: What inspired you to found UBERDOC and what were the main challenges you faced?
I am a surgeon, from a family of surgeons. I love medicine, but hate the system. Patients wait too long and pay too much to get the care they need. Doctors are faced with endless regulations, insurance restrictions, and delayed compensation. What if patients could connect directly to doctors, specialists, without a phone call or referral for a single, transparent price, both in person or via telemedicine? And what if that price were below commercial insurance? That is what UBERDOC is, a digital healthcare platform whose mission is access and price transparency. Simple concept, yet no one thought you could fix healthcare with a direct to consumer model created by a 56 year old woman surgeon with a very good day job. The 1000s of doctors on the platform think otherwise.
Q: Did you start the venture alone?
No. While the idea was mine, I have had many people help it come to fruition. My family members in medicine, marketing, and medical IT, my colleagues, including doctors, nurses, insurance experts, all on the front lines of care, and my friends, mostly women, who came together to invest their time and money to make UBERDOC a success.
Q: In your opinion, what are some key opportunities in the healthcare space going forward?
Our current system is based on the premise that patients don't know what is best for them. Rather employers, insurers, or the government determine how care is delivered. The doctors and patients are no longer stake holders. HOWEVER, technology has allowed us to streamline care in
new ways, advances in biotechnology, such as targeted cancer therapies, no longer fit a one size fits all model, and telemedicine has created a more efficient and less expensive alternative to traditional care.
Patients don't need to wait for answers, doctors don't need a complex system to deliver treatment. Recognizing it is the patient who is paying for their care will not only reduce the cost, but will hold the entire system accountable.
Q: What's your business model, have you grown your revenue?
UBERDOC makes revenue through patient transactions and subscriptions. Doctors pay monthly for telemedicine, if they require it, and we take a transaction fee from every patient appointment. We also have strategic partnerships with companies offering technologies that facilitate a patient evaluation or help physicians run their digital office.
Q: Do you think luck played a role in the success of UBERDOC?
Of course, and timing. COVID catapulted us forward because doctors needed telemedicine and needed a way to stay connected to their patients. Patients need a way to find affordable care, especially now that so many are out of work or have turned to high deductible plans. There has never been a better time for a new choice.
Q: What are your goals for the future?
UBERDOC doesn't just provide a transparent price for a doctor visit, but has partnered with an on line pharmacy to guarantee prescriptions at a transparent price. Our plan is to negotiate with every aspect of care, labs, xrays, procedures, so that an UBERDOC patient will be guaranteed a transparent price. Not only can they use their health savings, but they will be able to own their medical record. This creates a truly independent and seamless access to care.
Q: If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
Hard to say. Every error, every choice good or bad led us to another opportunity. I only wish I knew from the start women only had a 2% chance of funding. It would have made me feel a bit better when I was ignored.
Q: Can you talk about one woman who has impacted your life?
There are many strong women in my family, including my mother who died two years ago. She started a new business in her fifties after we were in college. My sisters-in-law also each began new leadership positions after their kids were grown. One even founded a tech start up, so I am in good company.
Q: What are your favorite books?
Jane Austen, Dostoyevsky (and most Russian authors) never disappoint. I also enjoy Elena Ferrante.
Q: What's your advice for female founders who are just starting out?
Don't ever let anyone tell you no. 98% of people will, but we are used to being in the top 5%. However, some day we will be as successful as our male counterparts, and won't always have to be exceptional just to succeed.