Business meetings, educational courses and long-distance relationships can all be easier facilitated through the use of the internet and a webcam. Physician consulting is no different; telemedicine now promises to remotely diagnose and treat patients by means of telecommunication technology. While there are some drawbacks, including difficulty in properly physically assessing patients, patients can now access physicians across the country and receive medical opinions that would otherwise require a flight and other extraneous measures.
Gil Addo is the CEO of RubiconMD, a New York based e-consult service for people who may not have access to top physicians in metropolitan areas. On the subject of investing in telehealth startups, he says, “Telehealth makes quality care accessible to communities and encourages open communication between physicians which results in better patient outcomes. Investing in telehealth technologies is critical in tackling the two biggest issues in healthcare, access and affordability, by expanding care and lowering costs for both health systems and patients.”
Nathaniel Lacktman, Health Care Partner, Chair of Foley and Lardner LLP’s Telemedicine Industry Team, and Co-Chair of Foley’s Digital Health Group, describes the challenges with investing in telehealth. He says, “Transforming healthcare is a complex, ambitious endeavor, and it is important that founders and funders have the same philosophy. You do not want a situation where the founders believe in slow growth while the funders are expecting high-scalability and quick returns. Telehealth entrepreneurs should look for funders who can deliver not only capital, but also industry contacts, expertise, and a shared vision for the future success of the company.”
Jonathan D. Linkous, the CEO of Linkous Health as well as CEO of PATH, comments on the current state of telehealth as a culmination of various efforts. He says, “after 30 years of research, trials and pilots, telehealth has finally become accepted by payers, health systems and regulators. Examples of telehealth services that are experiencing massive growth include: consumer-initiated online doctor visits; specialty services to patients in emergency rooms or ICU units; and mental health care. This trend toward adoption of telehealth is accelerated as rising costs in healthcare forces the transition from volume to value-based services. The greatest growth will be in areas where telehealth provides improved outcomes, greater access and lowered costs.”
Here are the top funded telehealth startups in the US:
Lemonaid Health has raised an $11 million Series A, which was announced May 22, 2017. The startup, which offers consults and prescription services, was created in order to offer an affordable alternative for individuals who may not be able to access traditional care methods. Their team comprises of a chief medical officer, physicians, a patient support team, and clinical experts and advisors.
CEO Paul Johnson says, “At Lemonaid Health we’re on a mission to make it easier and cheaper to get access to healthcare. Our patients use our birth control, ED, hair loss and other services to get treated remotely in only a few minutes. We even offer a mail order delivery option for certain medicines.”
HelloMD, a San-Francisco based startup, has raised a $7 million Series A announced on March 4, 2018. The web platform gives helpful cannabis information and advice for patients and puts out interesting articles and videos daily. The site offers access to doctors and in-depth descriptions of their cannabis products as well as a unique ability to connect and share ideas with like-minded patients. The platform exists as a telehealth community between patients and doctors, as well as patients and patients.
CEO and Founder Mark Hadfield says, “HelloMD uses Telehealth to serve millions of new consumers using medical cannabis for their health and wellness. Cannabis and Telehealth are a natural fit, because cannabis stigma exists and people are reluctant to talk to their healthcare practitioner about their choice to use cannabis. Additionally, cannabis consumers have lots questions and Telehealth communication applies not only to doctor: patient interactions, but in our mission to provide excellent customer service too.”
Fruit Street Health, a New York based company, has raised a $3 million Series B which was announced on August 2, 2017. The startup is mobile application and web platform focused on digital diabetes prevention. Their online video educational classes are from the CDC Diabetes National Prevention Program and is aimed at patients who have pre-diabetes. Further, the startup pairs dieticians with patients through video consults. They offers wearable device technology so that physicians can monitor changes in sleep, exercise, diet and weight. Through a patient portal, patients can share a visual food diary with physicians for real-time results as opposed to waiting for appointments to share data that could be easily forgotten prior to a doctor visit.
Encounter Telehealth, an Omaha based startup, has raised a $500K Seed Round, which was announced on December 20, 2017. Their telepsych platform uses cloud-based web technology to connect patients with doctors with reliable video and audio quality and consistent treatment. Their mission is to provide services identical to real life meetings remotely ensures patients’ comfortability in receiving psychological care. The startup also offers remote staff training for various organizations, like nursing homes, via e-conferences. The startup was created to meet a growing demand of psychologists in rural areas.
Header Image: HelloMD
Leah D’Sa is a Junior studying Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College. She is currently a copyeditor for the school newspaper the Berkeley Beacon as well as Poetry Editor for the literary magazine the Emerson Review. She is looking to begin her career with health technology writing as she seeks to combine her lifelong love of writing and science.
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