One example is the 98point6 assistant, essentially a bot, that conducts about half of the initial interview with the patient and presents that information to the doctor (Cape expects that percentage to increase over time, as the technology gets smarter). 98point6 is also pushing to get companies to cover the service.
- 98point6 is an under-the-radar company with an ambitious goal to improve access to primary care in America.
- Its founder hails from Microsoft, and its chief product officer is the former vice president in charge of scaling Amazon Prime from tens of thousands to millions of people.
- It is backed by private investors ranging from BlackRock’s Larry Fink to ex-Goldman Sachs CFO David Viniar.
Other start-ups are trying to increase access to primary care by experimenting with virtual-only approaches, such as smartphone apps to connect doctors and patients, like Doctor on Demand or AmericanWell. In general, insurance pays for these services, or they charge patients a fee of $40 to $50 per visit. But 98point6 believes it’s onto something different by blending these two worlds, and leveraging technology to bring down the price. It now offers a messaging service for patients and doctors to connect at an introductory price of $20 a year with no additional fees for a visit (after the first year, it costs $120). The subscription model can also help patient health by supporting an ongoing relationship between doctor and patient, Cape believes. “Our hope is that will engage with our users literally every month about something related to their health,” he said. Apart from the price tag, the big draw for consumers is the ability to message a doctor at any time, Cape believes. As more consumers start to use it, that will cut down on the administrative work that is “burning out” doctors, potentially turning them into advocates for the product.