Episode #131: Solving the ‘last mile of care’ problem with a personalized care concierge platform that delivers whole person care, with Renee Dua MD & Nick Desai, co founders of Heal & Hey Renee


The focus of this interview is on recognizing and addressing one of the most ubiquitous barriers to healthcare. I’ve heard it labeled as “the last mile of care”.  What we’re talking about is where the rubber really meets the road in delivering on the triple aim of healthcare outcomes, costs & experience. Medical encounters, diagnoses, referrals, clinical interventions, care plans and prescriptions – this is where they all make a difference, or not. If you’re wondering where that is or how that happens, then listen to this interview. 

Our guests today, Dr. Renee Dua & Nick Desai, are serial entrepreneurs and co-founders of two game-changing companies, Heal, and more recently, Hey Renee. They have focused their efforts on seniors, those with complex chronic conditions and the under-served, providing convenient & accessible care in the home and leveraging digital technology to customize and humanize healthcare. And, of note, they are married and have three adorable children.

 Dr. Renee Dua is a nephrologist who created & co-founded HeyRenee in June 2021. Prior to HeyRenee, she co-founded Heal, where she served as Chief Medical Officer for 7 years – leading the successful delivery of over 300,000 doctor house calls, driving clinical strategy & product development.

Nick Desai is the co-Founder and CEO of HeyRenee. He’s an electrical & computer engineer, and a highly accomplished entrepreneur who has created and led four successful start-ups over the past 2 decades. Prior to co-founding HeyRenee, Nick was CEO and co-founder of Heal.

In this interview, we’ll hear:

  1. Why Dr. Renee Dua & Nick Desai believe that care based in the home is superior to facility-based healthcare delivery.
  2. The very personal healthcare-related stories that led this couple to co-found both Heal & HeyRenee
  3. The four levels of “knowing” a person that Nick outlines as their Whole Person approach.
  4. Why Nick believes that the numerous point digital solutions are leading to further fragmentation of care and how the HeyRenee platform is being designed to coordinate and integrate care across the continuum of care.

I have to admit that it took me a couple of listens to this interview before I began to really appreciate the reframed principles and point-of-view that Renee & Nick were sharing.  I’ll try to distill them down into a few bullet points and a couple of key quotes that stood out for me. 

  • The role of the family and caregiver is critical, and needs to be supported. 
  • Healthcare delivered in the home is far more convenient, safer, more inclusive and engaging of family and caregivers, and more personalized. 
  • Understanding the ‘patient’ as a whole person is central to developing a customized care plan that actually works. 
  • Providers take a radical leap of faith each time they prescribe a medication or dictate a care plan. Patients and their caregivers need more customized care, personalized direction and contextual support in overcoming the barriers to deploying and executing on care plans.   
  • We need to redefine value-based care in terms of improved care & outcomes leading to lower costs, rather than the current approach which is largely about checking boxes and raising risk scores. 
  • Patients need to be enabled, caregivers need to be empowered, and we need to do this without placing extra burdens on physicians and other providers of care.  
  • The family is the basic unit of care; helping families navigate and coordinate care is a fundamental barrier to health that healthcare leaders have not adequately understood or addressed.

Renee & Nick do not pull their punches.  They believe the current healthcare system is deeply misguided – placing undue stress and burden on providers – and providing sub-optimal, depersonalized care to patients and their caregivers.  One stat Nick cites to support this statement is that nearly 75% of seniors lack a coordinated care plan. Their goal, as Renee puts it, is to create a “personalized care concierge platform that delivers whole person care.”  She goes on to say, “a platform that supports and enables all of the caretaker functions… is the most critical thing missing in healthcare.  The facts substantiate her statement and support her goal. Over 50 million Americans struggle to care for older loved ones in the face of a predicted shortage of 1.2 million home health aides in the next decade.

Renee – who has over 15 years of experience as a practicing nephrologist – believes that “there is a disconnect between those in charge and those who are sick”.  When I asked what one message she would deliver to healthcare leaders, her recommendation was that healthcare administrators and executives should spend time in a doctor’s exam room, and observe the real-life challenges and barriers imposed upon providers and patients. 

I’ll leave you with one final quote by Dr. Renee Dua, which I have heard echoed by other visionary entrepreneurs who are transposing and transforming care from the legacy brick and mortar ecosystem into the home-based care ecosystem. “To this day,” Renee states, “I fundamentally believe there is no magic that happens inside a building… The best doctors want to spend time with their patients, and where better to do that than in the home…

Until Next Time,
Wishing you Whole Person Health

Zeev Neuwirth, MD