With $6.6M in recent funding, Icebreaker Health expands availability of Lemonaid text-based telemedicine app

By Jonah Comstock
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Icebreaker Health, a relatively new telemedicine startup that raised $6.6 million in August, has expanded its Lemonaid app-based telehealth service into Michigan and New York (not to be confused with fitness tracking startup Lemonade Labs). Icebreaker Health already serves patients in Pennsylvania and California. The company's Chief Medical Officers is Dr. Jason Hwang, who co-authored The Innovator's Prescription: A Disruptive Solution for Healthcare with Clayton Christensen. 

Lemonaid is a simple app that offers asynchronous telemedicine via text for a few particular conditions like acid reflux, erectile disfunction, flu, hair loss, urinary tract infections and for prescription of birth control pills. The visits cost $15 a piece and the company promises a two-hour turnaround time. After the patient fills out a questionnaire, the doctor can write them a prescription and send it automatically to a local pharmacy. If the patient's symptoms turn out to be beyond the scope of the service, Lemonaid will refer them and refund the visit. 

"Our mission at Lemonaid is to provide great, safe healthcare that people can afford while also saving time and hassle," CEO Paul Johnson said in a statement. "We’re so excited that soon we’ll be helping patients in Michigan and New York too.” 

Video-based and phone-based telehealth are undeniably having a moment right now, with Teladoc's recent IPO and constant news of big customers from the likes of American Well, Doctor On Demand, and Teladoc. But others believe there's a market for an asynchronous app-based option that's easier to use and to scale. 

Sherpaa, one prominent example of this mentality, has raised around $8 million. Sherpaa also offers text-based asynchronous telemedicine, but offers a wider scope of care and offers it through employers rather than direct to consumers. Its founder, Dr. Jay Parkinson has been an outspoken advocate for asynchronous telemedicine.

Another asynchronous service, called virtuwell, just recently launched for patients in California. The visit costs $45 but can address 50 conditions including acne, birth control, bladder infection, sinus infection and sunburn. In addition to California, virtuwell is available in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

In other telemedicine news, California has recently seen a new use case spring up in the form of dedicated apps like EazeMD and SpeedWeed. These apps include teleconferences with doctors for one purpose: to get the user a medical marijuana prescription.