Israeli start-up Air Doctor takes care of you while on vacation

Your choices? Remain at your hotel, head to hospital or try to navigate the intimidating, local medical scene with limited language skills and assistance from your insurer.

April 11, 2019 16:05
2 minute read.
Israeli start-up Air Doctor takes care of you while on vacation

From left: Air Doctor co-founders Yegor Kurbachev, Yam Derfler, Efrat Sagi-Ofir and Jenny Cohen Derfler. (photo credit: AIR DOCTOR)


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It’s a traveler’s worst nightmare. You have been looking forward to your weekend city retreat or exotic getaway for quite some time, only to be struck down by a stomach bug or mystery illness shortly after arrival.

Your choices? Remain at your hotel, head to hospital or try to navigate the intimidating, local medical scene with limited language skills and assistance from your insurer.

In 2014, Yam Derfler was hiking in Mexico when he fell ill. After spending hours receiving unsympathetic treatment at a local hospital, and learning that many friends had dealt with similarly unpleasant experiences, he knew that there had to be a better solution for sick travelers abroad.

Two years later, Derfler co-founded Air Doctor, an app and web-based platform designed to match patients with trusted physicians and speedily schedule appointments while abroad.

The company, headed by CEO Jenny Cohen Derfler, is based in Beit Nekofa, a small community located 10 kilometers west of Jerusalem. The service went live in August 2018 after securing $3.1 million in funding from Kamet Ventures, the insurtech incubator of French insurance giant AXA.

Eight months later, the platform currently operates in 15 popular countries for tourists across four continents. The team plans to enter nine more countries in the coming months and provide global coverage within two years.

“When a tourist flies abroad and they unfortunately require medical assistance, and it can be any type of medical need from the flu to breaking their leg, all they have to do is use our free app or web interface to look for a doctor around their vicinity in the specialty that they’re looking for,” Yuval Zimerman, director of marketing and PR at Air Doctor, told The Jerusalem Post.

“On average, the patient will have an appointment within 10 minutes. Our service is free and you just need to take the doctor’s invoice to your insurance company and get reimbursed according to your policy. We haven’t had one case where somebody didn’t get reimbursed.”

Since its launch, Air Doctor’s smartphone app has been downloaded more than 35,000 times. The company has also picked up several awards, including first prize at the Global InsurTech Roadshow 2019 pitch competition in Frankfurt, and was named as one of MassChallenge’s top 10 start-ups of 2018.

“In the 15 countries where we work, we know who the clinics are and the doctors are, and they’re trustworthy. They’re legitimate and licensed. That’s our real value. We give customers real, private clinics with high standards,” said Zimerman.

“While there are similar solutions in individual countries, they are targeted to the local population in the local language. There is currently no other global solution that targets anyone from anywhere, traveling anywhere.”

Aiming to avoid the need for patients to deal with insurers post-treatment, Air Doctor partnered with Israeli insurer Phoenix to make the process even easier.

Once an individual purchases travel insurance through Phoenix, the insurer sends log-in details for the Air Doctor app. Should medical assistance then be required when abroad, all doctors on the app are already pre-approved and paid for, with no need for reimbursement.

“I recommend to anyone that’s planning a trip to take a look at Air Doctor so they can see how easy it is to use and keep it on their phones,” said Zimerman. “Hopefully they won’t need to use it, but just in case.”

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