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The Direct-to-Patient Wave

Ro, which used to be called Roman, is a telemedicine company I worked for way back in the day. They published an interesting article regarding direct-to-patient healthcare, which they call DTP.

The takeaway from this article is that Ro is setting itself up to be non-insurance based, and they are doubling down on it. For those of us who are interested in the non-insurance space, this is important news.

Direct to Consumer Marketing

The Direct to patient (DTP) term Ro uses is nothing new. We’ve had the DTC term for a long time, another iteration of the B2C or business-to-customer term.

This is important in healthcare because marketing directly to patients is regulated. The hospital and health insurance groups have been lobbying aggressively to prevent telemedicine companies from swooping in to offer care to their patient out of network.

So, DTP or D2P, DTC, D2C, B2C … it’s all the same. If you come across that, you’ll be able to know what business people are talking about.

Direct Care Model

Most of my readers know about the DPC or direct primary care model. It’s been around for a long time. It’s the child of a direct-care model where the patient and doctor engage in a financial transaction without a middleman.

It can be relatively cheap to start a direct care practice these days.

The dermatologist will perform a basal cell carcinoma excision for a flat fee of $950. The orthopedist repairs an ACL for $3,000. And the primary care doctor manages your ongoing needs for $150 per month.

There are a few things missing here. Hospitalization and drug costs and lab testing or referrals are costs that are harder to factor in.

Insurance Coverage

You don’t use your auto insurance when you get an oil change or gas.

You don’t use your home insurance when you bring someone to unclog a drain. Nor when you go buy a new trash bin for the kitchen.

But you use your health insurance for damn near anything health related. Many consumers are upset why their health insurance doesn’t cover healthy food and their gym membership.

Health insurance is not real insurance in the US. It’s more of a tax. It’s a mandatory fee without which you would lose basic access to care.

The direct care model is competing with the mandatory use of health insurance to get healthcare.

List of Direct-to-Patient Companies

I wanted to write this article mainly to become familiar with the companies in this DTP space.

Modern Fertility

Home fertility testing and doctor visits.

It costs about $200 for this DTP service.

Sidecar Health

They are getting rid of traditional insurance. You see your doctor and forward them the bill.

Cost Plus Drugs

Pills don’t have to be that complicated. You can shop for your pill and choose the right price for you.

Sesame

Direct access to an extensive list of physicians with cash prices listed.

Adyn

For a little under $400, you can get a personalized birth control recommendation.

It’s another online pharmacy of sorts. They also offer doctor visits.

Ophelia

This is a platform for opioid dependence. Talk about being bold and brave.

Galileo

They offer a monthly or annual membership or a single virtual visit for basic care.

GetStix

It’s a women’s home test kit for BV or UTI. They don’t seem to offer clinical visits.

Other companies worth mentioning below seem to integrate data and tech to deliver better care.

Spora Health. This shows you that you can get as niche as you like, making your brand stand out even more. Primary care for people of color. They are doing it for as little as $10 per month.

K Health. They have been around for a while. Primary care, urgent care, pediatrics, and mental health for around $30 per month.

Allara. PCOS care. Pure and simple and as niche as niche gets. They focus on common issues such as acne, hair growth, fertility, diet, weight, ovarian cysts, etc.

Brightside. Anxiety and depression therapy and prescriptions. Prices are somewhere in the $300 per month range, but you get a lot.

Real. It’s mental health but driven by technology. I don’t fully understand it, but I get the appeal. Not everything has to be one-on-one. Very cheap – $30 per month.

Found. It’s for weight loss. I think they use tech and medication to get your weight down. I can’t find the prices.

Capsule. Same-day delivery of medications. It’s another online pharmacy that I love seeing more of.

Everly Well. A comprehensive home testing site. STD tests and food sensitivity testing.

98point6. Virtual primary care and some acute care stuff. Pretty standard stuff.

9am.health. It seems to be diabetes and/or hypertension and high cholesterol management platform.

Bicycle Health. For around $200 per month, you get opioid use disorder treatment and medication.

Favor. Another femtech site, perhaps competing with Nurx. A race to zero in the birth control space. It would make more sense to just give that away and focus on real women’s health.

Nurx. Acne, birth control, STD testing, mental health, migraines … pretty much like Ro but more women-friendly.

Folx. LGBTQ+ friendly telehealth. Estrogen and testosterone treatment. Really good pricing and a very well-done website.

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