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98point6 is a text-based primary care platform that has raised over $247M
Steven Loeb and Bambi Francisco Roizen speak with Brad Younggren, Chief Medical Officer at 98point6, a text-based primary care platform, covering everything from diseases of the respiratory system and skin to infectious and parasitic diseases.
98point6 drives people to sign up from their phone and then uses AI and machine learning in order to get information on the patient, as well as to learn from their visits, so it can provide better care as it gets smarter. The patient mainly interacts with a board-certified doctor, however, not a chatbot.
When patients first start using the service, they are paired with the first available physician licensed in their state and don't need to select a doctor in order to access the service. Once the patient has begun their visit, they have access to the doctor’s profile information including photograph, medical school, years of practice and medical license number.
The company uses the data it collects so it can to get to know each patient and their medical history; that means that every time a patient interacts with 98point6, they're speaking to the same service, making it feel like there's continuity of care. On top of that, the patient’s visit history and medical history are made available to the physician who can read the entire chat transcript from previous visits, allowing them to pick up exactly where the last visit ended.
98point6 has raised $247.3 million in venture funding, including a $118 million round in October 2020.
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:
- Younggren began his career as an active duty emergency physician, where he was involved in technology procurement for the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan. He then worked for Mobisante, which was the first FDA-approved mobile phone device in the United States, attaching an ultrasound probe to a Windows phone. So, he has seen the development and the growth of digital health since the beginning.
- 98point6 has developed a text-first approach to on demand care delivery. Its goal is to change people's workflow and thought process around receiving medical care. When people are thinking about their own health, the company wants them to be able to able to get trusted information and an appropriate care plan.
- A good patient physician relationship means the patient feels heard, so 98point6 felt it was critical to replicate that on its own platform. It has an underlying neural network that allows patients to put anything they want into the automated assistant so the company can gather information from them. That means the conversational AI collects information in a way that a patient feels is valid and appropriate, and is still giving the doctor information they need, which is valuable for making a diagnosis.
- Technology can be burdensome for doctors and it can actually slow them down if it's not made correctly. 98point6's doesn't do that because it built the technology with them from the beginning. That allows them to increase the efficiencies in the system and touch more lives on a day to day basis.
- There's been a big shift the market over the last year or so where many other companies are now branding virtual primary care. Before that, when 98point6 was doing primary care, no one really cared about talking about that but now it's a buzzword. What's really important is what they're actually doing, though. If you're still just taking care of UTIs and coughs, then you're not really doing primary care, because primary care is much more complex. 98point6 also manages chronic disease and preventive care.
- Thanks to the pandemic, the company saw its volumes go up overnight, so it had to increase its workforce quickly, many of them coming on part time. The company still had to ensure the quality stayed the same, which it was able to do through its platform: it could actually observe understand how patients were interacting with these new physicians and make sure they're no different than its full time doctors.
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