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Wheel handles all aspects of telehealth, from training to technology to job placement
Steven Loeb and Bambi Francisco Roizen speak with Michelle Davey, CEO and co-founder of Wheel, an end-to-end a telehealth vendor whose solutions include allowing doctors access to training in telehealth; helping with staffing, connecting physicians, nurse practitioners, and PAs to telehealth companies; and a white-labeled service that allows companies to build virtual care services under their own brand.
The company raised a $50 million Series B investment in May from Lightspeed Ventures, CRV, Silverton Partners, Tusk Venture Partners, J.P. Morgan and Future Shape, bringing its total funding to $66 million.
Our overall goal with these podcasts is to understand how technology is radically changing healthcare: the way we screen, treat and measure progress and outcomes. How we’re empowering the consumer. Whether we’re creating productivity that drives economic costs down? And how tech advancements change the role of the doctor.
Highlights from the interview:
- Davey's connection to healthcare comes from having an undiagnosed autoimmune condition for over 15 years due to her rural hometown lacking access to quality medical care. That had made access a key and foundational to her entire life. When she found telehealth, it merged her professional background and personal interest of letting people access quality healthcare, regardless of geography or socioeconomic position.
- For companies, Wheel acts as the clinical infrastructure, and clinical network so they can deliver care across all 50 states, 24/7. For clinicians, the company provides them with the training and support so they can have a viable career in telehealth.
- Right now, telemedicine is a little bit of the wild wild west in terms of trying to figure out which company clinicians are going to work for and what patient populations they're serving. Wheel lets clinicians manage their entire virtual care practice in one place: they can work across many different companies and manage one schedule, and not have to deal with the headache of scheduling or billing, as Wheel handles all of that for them.
- Companies were having to build their healthcare stack in house, which takes over 15 months, and over $15 million, to be able to deliver care nationwide. Wheel enables them to get to market a lot sooner and scale to more patients by building on top of its virtual care platform. The company has had clients who have been able to deliver care in all 50 states in less than eight days.
- Pre-pandemic, clinicians had no training on how to treat patients virtually. Wheel helps them train not only on what it calls “webside manner,” and how to engage patients virtually, but how to enable patients to palpitate themselves, as well as what it's like to work in virtual care and about the regulatory environment and the different clients that they’ll be working with. The platform also has real time training, so if a clinician has a question about a certain treatment area that we're looking for, they can actually search within the platform and get that support in real time, versus having to remember all of it.
- Even though Wheel does help place clinicians with telehealth companies, it doesn't consider itself to be a staffing company because staffing companies match them to telehealth employers, and then step out of the picture. Wheel manages an entire network of clinicians, credentials them, maintains and monitors their licensure, does all of the workforce management, handles all of the regulatory aspects, and then it enables them to work across multiple companies at a time.
- The company measures success in regards to patient satisfaction with telehealth versus in person care, but also about satisfaction with the clinicians and their work lives. One of the things Wheel measures monthly is burnout: typically, about 50%, of clinicians report burnout, but less the rate on Wheel is less than 10%.
- Instead of using a SaaS model, Wheel uses a fee-per-transaction model, where it gets paid per session. This is important because a telehealth company might have a large sitting network waiting around for patients, which may mean costs get passed down to the patient. By charging on a per patient visit level, it eliminates that sitting overhead, and so the cost to the patient is much lower.
- Wheel launched in January 2020, right before COVID hit; at the time the company was 15 people, and now it’s at over 150 people. It helped train clinicians on COVID protocols as they were changing weekly from the CDC and it was reevaluating and retraining all of its clinicians. Wheel also helped a number of companies stand up their virtual care literally overnight to help patients all across the US not only get tested and get treated for COVID, but also with just general questions. The company enabled patients to be able to be seen by care professionals that had been trained in COVID protocols.
- Over the last 18 months, Wheel has enabled companies to think about the longevity of their virtual care programs, and about how virtual care will be a part of the healthcare ecosystem, not a replacement for it. The company is focused on long-term programs for telehealth, as well as labs and remote patient monitoring, all of those parts that have to come together to serve patients virtually wherever they are.
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