How Dr. Renee Dua Is Building a New Kind of Healthcare System


(Image credit: Courtesy of Heal )

Welcome to Second Life, a podcast spotlighting successful women who've made major career changes—and fearlessly mastered the pivot. Hosted by Hillary Kerr, co-founder and chief content officer at Who What Wear, each episode will give you a direct line to women who are game changers in their fields. Subscribe to Second Life on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else you listen to stay tuned.

Renee Dua, MD, is an internist and nephrologist. After completing her residency at UCLA and fellowship at USC, she ran her own private practice in nephrology, where she focused on the incredibly complex and, as Dua puts it, "endlessly fascinating” study of the kidneys.

To further help her community, Dua took hospital administrative roles, namely as the chief of medicine at Valley Presbyterian and Simi Valley Hospitals. During her time there, however, she faced unexpected challenges—not with her patients but with the healthcare system at large. Dua found herself tasked with critiquing her colleagues’ charts and upholding rules that she found, frankly, antiquated. "Lord knows how many toes I'm stepping on right now,” says Dua. "It's really pathetic that some of these things are just the business of creating quote, unquote "compliance” but not in a way that is very progressive to building collegiality in a hospital setting or making sure patients are safe in a hospital setting.”


(Image credit: Courtesy of Heal)

Still, it wasn’t until a particularly long and frustrating experience at the ER one night with her son that things came into focus. "What are all the things that went wrong here?” Dua said to her husband Nick Desai on the car ride home. "I really think I want to stop being the kind of doctor I am and start doing house calls and just focus my attention on patients. Because what happened to me today is not the kind of patient care I ever want to give anyone.” Three weeks later, Desai had built Dua an app, the first iteration of a new on-demand healthcare model: Heal.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Heal)

Today, Heal is operating in eight states, offering access to over 150 doctors and healthcare professionals who meet patients in the comfort and safety of their own homes, either in person or via telehealth appointments. The new model is reducing wait times and promoting access to quality healthcare, two factors of paramount importance to Dua.

As the chief medical officer of Heal, Dua is widening her patient reach by empowering her colleagues. "As we've grown, what I've really come to love is building the software and the products for these doctors so they can build practices in their community to grow their patient panel and see the same people over and over and give them very high-quality care.”


(Image credit: Courtesy of Heal)

Tune in to this week’s episode of Second Life to hear how Dua made the switch from working in the traditional healthcare system to becoming an entrepreneur and creating a new system, plus all the lessons she’s learned along the way.

Don't forget to subscribe to Second Life on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else you get podcasts so you don't miss an episode. 

Next up, hear how Annie Lawless went from cold-pressed juice to clean makeup.