I came across a new primary care telemedicine company, SteadyMD, and I thought it would be interesting to talk about their business model.
In the past I have reached out to such companies to get some inside information before publishing, but I rarely hear back. So, this is all based on what I have learned about the company from stalking them online.
The important thing here is that they are fusing the membership model to telemedicine. I don’t believe that this model is successful by itself. But I’ll discuss the importance of membership models later in this post.
SteadyMD Primary Care Telemedicine
I like their model because they are serving as a platform to connect doctors and patients. This is ideal because there is less bias built into the platform.
They make their money by connecting the two interested parties, not by selling a potential solution (Rx) to patients. As long as their business structure is solid, there should be no legal problems.
Furthermore, they aren’t jumping on the same shitty acute care model like the other big telemedicine companies. They are focused on building relationships between the doctor and patient – essentially a virtual primary care model.
The word preventative care gets thrown around a lot. But I see a bright future for this catchphrase. A lot of technology is currently centered around this idea of preventing a potential disease.
They list many chronic diseases which they believe their doctors can manage. They also are comfortable with ordering lab work (Quest, LabCorp) as well as managing a few acute issues.
Finally, because there is a relationship between the doctor and patient, they also seem okay with doctors managing hair loss, ED, birth control medications, and other common conditions which direct to consumer telemedicine companies (Teladoc, DoD, etc) shy away from.
Pricing of the Membership Model
I like that their pricing is simple: $99/mo or $169/mo. Though, I will never understand why 99 vs 100.
Apparently their membership payment is paid annually. I can understand this but don’t like it being listed as a monthly if that’s the case. That’s $1,188 for a single person or $2,028 for a family.
Lab and medications and other tests will cost extra. That’s fair. And they mention on their website that they will help the patient find cheaper pricing where available for cash discounts.
Medical Assistant Pairing
If you review their career section you will see that they pair the physician up with a medical assistant. I think this is helpful. Having someone on your team who can do the mundane tasks and follow up with the patient is very helpful.
For a physician who is thinking of starting their own telemedicine practice, you don’t have to partner up with an MA or RN. You can bring on a health coach or dietician or a mental health expert.
The advantage of an RN however might be that they can screen many of the questions you get and even provide a response on your behalf.
I don’t have much to say, I love the idea and something I’ve discussed on this website before. Their videos and other branding material represents them nicely.
The branding can still be improved. A patient who will stumble on this website will want to read a ton of clinical info. They would want to see highlights of physicians and discussion of sample cases.
I would provide a lot more videos and offer helpful articles on various diets and preventative services. This isn’t cheap because they would have to hire someone who can write good copy but at the end of each article they can convert a patient to a customer.
A cute little cartoon video of how patients can use this service when they are traveling or out of the country or are busy parents would drive the service idea home.
And they will need to own and operate a clever term for their model. The way DPC and concierge have take over that space, I would use something like “Online Primary Care” or “Your Virtual Practice” – anything that you can brand around.
#2 Membership Model
Because they don’t have a good reason to justify the membership model, I would recommend adding a per-visit cost as well. It will serve as a way to test drive the platform and if someone uses it enough at $75/visit they’ll soon recognize the value of $99/mo.
I would definitely offer a “new mom” price. Something gimmicky along the lines of “taking you through your first pregnancy” or for the “first time moms”. It’s a baby so you can charge $20/month. The point is to lube the parent up to become a future customer and talk about your service.
#3 Address Customer Fears
Display some sample costs and talk about how your doctors work around common obstacles. For example, if someone needs a physical exam or procedure, how is that accomplished and what are expected costs.
If someone needs a lab test or MRI, how much does that cost and where is it done. Super easy and very transparent.
#4 Competing with DPC
The biggest elephant in the room is that they are competing with DPC practices. The kind of consumer who might opt for this kind of online membership model probably knows about DPC.
Create a fun little chart and compare the advantages of DPC and the advantages of this online service. And avoid saying anything negative – it’s important to stay professional in such cases.
#5 Hire a Salesperson
A good salesperson can really help you increase your customer base. Interview the right person for this position and pay them a base + commissions.
This person can spend all day on the phone calling employers and reach out to patients online and create ads to reach the right kind of patients.
They will reach out to current customers and figure out what else can be improved, etc.
#6 Partner with Startups
Lots of healthcare startups would love a chance to get at the kind of data a telemedicine company collects.
It wouldn’t be hard for this primary care telemedicine company to partner up with a healthcare startup which screens patients for CHF using a single tracing of an EKG. Or with a company which collects patient voices in order to diagnose heart disease or dementia, etc.
Starting Your Own Telemedicine Practice
I hope that SteadyMD will grow outside of St. Louis, where they are currently located. It seems like a good service. They are going where no telemedicine has gone before, though somewhere where many are going to.
I recently did 2 more interviews with telemedicine companies who are looking to get into primary care telemedicine. Why? Because parity laws in many states are demanding that an office visit and a virtual visit be compensated at the same rate.
Be honest, knowing the average American patient, how many do you think will continue to bother with the traffic and wait-time to see a doctor in person?
If you’re planning on starting your own telemedicine practice, first figure out your business model. SteadyMD is doing something unique, which make it easier to market.
Next, start marketing yourself before you see your first set of patients. You want to be visible to your potential patients in as many forms as possible.
Want more unique ideas, jump on a call with me and let’s talk about starting or growing your current practice.