It’s a situation every parent faces at some point. Their child has a pinkeye infection for the fifth time. They know exactly what’s going on, and exactly which medication a doctor would prescribe to fix it.
Mike Hilton, the chief product officer of healthcare tech company Accolade, knows this type of situation well.
“It is such a hassle to call your doctor, find an open slot, drive to the doctor, bring your kid, have the doctor examine the kid for two minutes, immediately diagnose it and prescribe the meds and drive home,” he said. “That’s a lot of effort for something that’s relatively straightforward.”
That’s why Accolade is partnering with Teladoc, a Texas-based company that offers virtual doctors visits, via phone or online video, so patients can avoid the headache, so to speak, of getting in-person appointments for routine health issues.
In a nutshell, Teladoc and other telehealth services provide an alternative to a visit to urgent care or the emergency room, potentially making care more accessible for patients who live in rural areas, have mobility issues, or struggle to find the time and means to make it to a hospital.
The company currently offers general health appointments to treat ailments like a cold or a rash, as well as specialized appointments in dermatology, mental health, sexual health, and for patients quitting tobacco use.
“It’s this great alternative for a regular doctor, but a lot of employees don’t know about it,” Hilton said.
That lack of awareness is creating something of a problem for the telehealth industry, and Teladoc and Accolade hope that their partnership will help get more patients using Teladoc’s services.
Accolade hopes it will also offer a way to keep down healthcare costs.
The company, which helps patients navigate the healthcare system, describes itself as an “on-demand healthcare concierge for employers, health plans, health systems and consumers.” It employs doctors, nurses and other healthcare specialists, called Accolade Health Assistants, who serve as the point of contact to guide people through the healthcare system.
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Accolade CEO Raj Singh and CPO Hilton were co-founders of Concur, the travel and expense management company. In 2015, they joined Accolade, a Philadelphia-based healthcare tech startup, and announced plans to set up a second headquarters for the company, in Seattle. Accolade has raised more than $160 million to date, including a $70 million funding round last fall led by Andreessen Horowitz and Madrona Venture Group
Hilton said the Teladoc partnership is part of Accolade’s larger plan to help people use healthcare resources more effectively.
“What we’re trying to do is connect this ever-growing list of new innovations in healthcare to the consumer,” he said. “There’s actually a lot of solutions like Teladoc that are on the rise in healthcare, that fit outside the traditional health plan, that are great solutions, but suffer from the same problem.”
Those solutions range from specialized services that help manage conditions like diabetes to wellness plans that help companies support their employees’ mental health at work. It’s a dizzying array, and for the moment many of these services are struggling to find traction despite demand.
Hilton said this partnership and Accolade’s existing partnership with corporate wellness service Limeade are the first of many, pursuing the company’s goal of being a hub for connecting patients to a wide variety of healthcare resources.