With integration, Buoy Health, Circulation hope to create end-to-end acute care experience

By Jonah Comstock
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Buoy Health, an online platform that uses an AI chatbot as a gateway into healthcare treatment, has teamed up with Circulation, a technology startup that helps connect patients in need of medical transport with rides from Lyft, Uber, and other specialized options like wheelchair vans and non-emergency ambulances.

The two Boston-based companies will integrate their platforms with the goal of making the booking of transportation a seamless next step for patients who complete Buoy’s online conversation and conclude that they need to travel somewhere for care or, in some cases, be visited by a home nurse.

“It’s all about the patient journey here,” Andrew Le, CEO and cofounder of Buoy Health, told MobiHealthNews. “And when we started thinking about someone who’s sick, … part of the barrier to access is actually getting to the physical location. Having grown up as a startup in Boston, in the same city as Circulation, we’ve always kept a pulse on what they were doing and all of their successes. As we’ve built out a user base we’ve been meaning to work together to take that next step on the patient journey and lower the barrier, in this case to transportation, to the type of care that they need to be getting to.”

Circulation currently operates in more than 1,500 medical facilities in more than 40 states.

The two companies will begin piloting the technical API integration in the fourth quarter of 2018, with a goal to begin national rollout in 2019.

“I think you’re starting to see a very different framework for healthcare delivery and this is a nice example of that,” Robin Heffernan, CEO and cofounder of Circulation, told MobiHealthNews. “Where you need an easy access point and front door, you need some sort of trusted navigator to get you through the system, and then you need it to be a frictionless experience. And this is very different from just a few years ago. When we started this business there was no one thinking about better transportation, nor was there anyone like Buoy doing the smart interface on the front end.”

For Buoy, this partnership will have to lean on other agreements with providers themselves, such as the deal the startup inked earlier this month with CVS MinuteClinic. Le says those three pieces will help the Buoy to realize its vision for a frictionless, online-first care experience.

“We’re helping [patients] understand what type of care is appropriate, our partners will be offering up the different types of care appropriate to the patient, and Circulation here is really providing the connection directly to those services,” he said.