98point6 Wants to be Amazon Prime of Primary Care
A Seattle company looks to make primary care as easy as buying something off of Amazon.com.
98point6 is a Seattle start-up brain child of Rob Schwietzer who scaled Amazon Prime from thousands to millions and CEO Robbie Cape from Microsoft. 98point6 is focusing on “Direct Primary Care,” which involves charging the patient a subscription fee for access to high quality doctors. Direct Primary Care provides services face to face with the patient and doctor. Direct Primary Care only makes up less than 10 percent of physician practices. The Department of Health and Human Services is questioning if they could help fund some direct care practices for vulnerable seniors on Medicare.
There are other start-ups focused on trying to increase access to primary care by offering virtual-only services via smartphone apps that connect the patient and their doctors such as Doctor on Demand and AmericaWell. Insurance may cover these virtual visits or they may charge patients a fee of $40 to $50 per virtual visit.
98point6 the Best of Both Worlds?
98point6 is trying to offer the best of both worlds in primary care access, while leveraging technology so they can bring down the price. So far, 98point6 has not gotten into the face-to-face patient/physician offering. They only offer a messaging service at this point, enabling patients and doctors to communicate. They offer the messaging service at an introductory price of $20 for the first year, hooking the patient into the benefits and convenience of the model, raising the price to $120 for the second year.
This model looks to engage younger patients who are not seeing a physician except when they are needed, and often end up dealing with a provider who does not know the patient, who does not have a complete history and who can make mistakes in care decisions. Cape says they hope to also engage the subscribers monthly with something related to their health.
Technology is being used to ease the workload for providers, using a web bot that conducts about half of the initial interview with the patient and presents that information to the provider. Cape expects the percentage of information that a bot can collect for the provider to increase as the technology gets “smarter.”
98point6 has already solicited about 50 self-insured companies in the Seattle, Washington, area to provide this service to their employees. Employees who take advantage of the service within these 50 self-insured companies is higher than most telemedicine offerings, at 6 percent. Telemedicine offerings by employers tend to be utilized around 2 to 3 percent.
There are a lot of companies entering the alternate healthcare delivery model space. All are using technology to some degree. The success of these companies will be determined by their creativity, marketing, use of advanced technology, and adaptation by providers and patients.