As the number of venture-backed telemedicine startups continues to increase, there’s a certain amount of trust that needs to be established before choosing one over another. Convenience is only part of the equation.
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One Austin-based startup has found opportunity in making sure those startups stay compliant and safe. Wheel, originally named Enzyme Health, wants to help virtual health care companies scale, and has raised a $13.9 million Series A, led by CRV. The round also had participation from Tusk Ventures, which specializes in helping startups navigate regulatory and legal challenges, as well as Silverton Partners.
CEO and co-founder Michelle Davey launched the company after experiencing first-hand the impact of lacking health care infrastructure. It was “an effort to expand access to quality care for patients after struggling to get the access I needed growing up with chronic autoimmune disease in a rural part of the country,” she told Crunchbase News.
Originally the company was focused on connecting clinicians with virtual care companies, but now is focusing on virtual care compliance more broadly with its new funding. Davey described it as “a marketplace for companies to find a flexible, scalable workforce of qualified clinicians, while ensuring the right clinician can be matched with the right patient on demand.”
This is important, according to the company, because “health care companies are operating on a 1:1 model that limits clinicians to a single organization at a time, which ultimately limits patient access.” With Wheel, the goal is to give clinicians more flexibility and infrastructure in seeing patients.
Health care companies approach Wheel when they’re launching a new virtual care service to the market, Davey said, scaling to new states, or serving a broader patient population. The startup then makes sure the companies are set up from a regulatory, legal and compliance side; before setting them up with a matching system to get the right clinicians to the patients.
All telemedicine companies must comply with state-by-state regulations, including those which require companies to match patients with doctors licensed locally. Ferguson of Doctor On Demand said that makes supply and demand of doctors a top concern for telemedicine companies offering immediate appointments. Complying with regulations regarding pharmacy licensing and lab partnerships is also a requirement, according to Gangeskar.
In other words, telemedicine, like any market that faces rapid growth, has a fair share of infrastructure nightmares due to regulation. This indicates to me that a startup like Wheel, which is trying to make the workforce more flexible and create a system around all the different ambitious players, should be welcome as the telemedicine market matures.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias