Spruce raises $15M for app that connects consumers to dermatologists asynchronously

By Aditi Pai
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SpruceSan Francisco-based direct-to-consumer remote dermatology care service Spruce has raised $15 million from Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers, Google Ventures, Baseline Ventures, and Cowboy Ventures. This brings the company's total funding to $17 million to date. Spruce offers consumers an app that helps them get treatment for some skin problems without having to interact with a physician in-person or even in real-time.

"Our mission is to build a better way to see the doctor," Spruce CEO Ray Bradford told MobiHealthNews. "By that we mean that we don’t just want to be a convenient thing, we don’t just want to be a communication channel and a doctor network. We really want to understand, uniquely, per condition, how care gets provided and try to improve upon the visit experience for patients and doctors."

In order to do this, Bradford explained that instead of immediately offering treatment for many conditions, when the app launched in September, it only supported acne consultations. Today, the company is also announcing that it's expanding into treatment for various dermatology conditions including rashes, bites and stings, eczema, psoriasis, anti-aging, and male hair loss. The company built specialized programs for each new condition they added to the app.

"It’s a very similar approach to acne, where for each condition there is a clinical framework that our medial director and dermatologist advisor network has built to uniquely understand that condition." Bradford said. "It is everything from the questions you get asked, to the resource guides you get when you're diagnosed, to the tips and advice for prescriptions commonly associated with that condition. It’s a comprehensive clinical framework for each of those underlying conditions." 

Users who want to consult with a dermatologist can select a condition they want to get treated for in the app, which is currently only available for the iPhone. After they choose their condition, the app will provide users with an explanation of what to expect from the service. From there, they can choose a doctor. If users want to get the opinion of the first available doctor, they are guaranteed a 24 hour response, but they also have the option to choose a specific doctor. All doctors have a full profile that shows users where the doctor practices medicine, where they went to school, and why they are using Spruce.

If it's the user's first time, they then create an account and answer questions about their symptoms. The questions are interactive, so in some cases, the app will ask the user to answer a question based on how they answered the last question. Then, they can upload pictures of their condition and after 24 hours, they will receive a response from the doctor with a treatment plan and a prescription, if needed.

The online interaction costs $40 and users can message with the doctor for 30 days after it.

Spruce is offering the service in California, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania. They plan to be in a majority of states within a year.

Before founding Spruce, Bradford was a principal at Amazon Web Services and a partner at Kleiner Perkins.