I’ve worked with a lot of health-related companies in my career — from big pharma to startups. I’ve also had some great and truly not so great healthcare experiences. I also have people in my life who’ve struggled to find just the right care for their specific condition for most of their lives. They are still searching and can regale you with terrible stories of truly awful doctor/patient exchanges that will leave you in tears. We can do better. We have to do better. Digital health startups hold so much promise but in many cases, new companies must integrate or work within or figure out how to circumvent or reinvent giant, unweildy, vastly flawed systems or ways of working. The challenge is great, the goal is greater.
Here are a few of the digital health companies I’m currently rooting for, because I love what they’re about and the problems they are trying to tackle:
- Heal – On-demand doctors available for house calls. “Great, affordable healthcare in the comfort of our patient’s homes.” I was recently in San Diego, got sick in the wee hours of the morning with a terrible ear ache and didn’t know what to do. All my doctors were in LA. None of the walk-in clinics nearby were open yet. I did some quick online research, found Heal, downloaded the app and learned I could have a doctor come over within a few short hours. Amazing. I cannot tell you the piece of mind that gave me at 3an. I want everyone to have access to that kind of peace of mind when they or a loved one is suddenly sick and needs help, even when they’re out of town.
- Impact Health – The pitch: “Never call a health insurance company again.” SOLD x 100! As someone who just spent THREE DAYS (THREE. DAYS.) on the phone with many different departments of both HealthNet and BlueShield to sort a clerical error that didn’t cancel my HealthNet insurance properly which meant my new provider wouldn’t cover me even though I was approved and had already paid for the month of August (all while needing to see a doctor urgently for a bad cough), I would love to never have to call another insurance company again. It was truly maddening to spend that amount of time on the phone with various entities, all to get an “H code” removed from my HealthNet coverage so it was clear to my new provider that I was truly no longer covered by HealthNet. I was caught in some weird health insurance limbo where no prescriptions could be filled and no doctors could be seen, all because of a tiny clerical error that took many managers days to sort. ImpactHealth helps you sign up for coverage, find great doctors and helps you sort all your bills. All for free. An amazing service that is truly welcome.
- Maven Clinic – Here’s the pitch: “We started Maven because we want to make it easier for women to get immediate, professional care, from someone they trust. Wherever they are, whenever they need it. We’ve built a network of doctors, nurse practitioners, mental health providers, and specialists in all areas of women’s and children’s health, and make it easy for women to connect with them directly via video appointment or private message—whether it’s for a prescription or just for peace of mind.” If Maven can be Heal + Impact for women’s health, it will be a home run.
- GoodRx – The pitch: “Empowers consumers who are trying to get the best deals on prescription drugs. Its website and mobile app provide over 500 million pricing options for more than 6,000 different medications, with real-time updates on discounts, coupons and price fluctuations.” I don’t have any regular medications so I’ve never quite understood the stress involved in shifting costs depending on your health coverage (or lack thereof) and where you fulfill your prescription. But I had lunch with a friend yesterday who was prescribed eye drops for an eye infection at a walk-in clinic. The clinic was going to charge her $15 for the drops but realized they were out of them so they called the prescription into a local pharmacy. The pharmacy told her the cost would be $240. Insane. After some wrangling and some coupon-finding, it was sorted and though the price wasn’t $15, it was well under $100. But imagine if the coupon-finding couldn’t happen? And imagine if she needed this medication every month? Such a needed and valuable service.
- Parsley Health – The only medical practice with a 360° approach to long-term health. Parsley Health was founded in 2015 by Dr. Robin Berzin MD, a Columbia-trained physician, digital health expert, and leader in functional medicine. Robin believes that medicine should put nutrition, wellness and prevention on the front lines of health care, while simultaneously making care smart and data-driven to meet our needs in today’s world. For $150/month, you have access to in-person and online care, 5 doctors visits, 24 ongoing health “coaching” visits and access to a wealth of medicine, wellness and nutrition data that will help you address every aspect of your health including and most importantly, preventive health. Imagine seeing a doctor to stay healthy, rather than seeing one only when you are sick.
There are a ton of other companies doing great work on the doctor side of the patient/doctor exchange, making it easier for doctors to access your data in one place, provide better care to you, prescribe more than just medicine to you, combine your own quantified self data with theirs and so much more. Next time, I’ll do a round-up of those digital health companies.
Would love know what companies are on your radar or that you’ve used and have found to be game-changers in your own personal healthcare journey.