Is there room for small local players in the rapidly growing telemedicine market? That's a question that Boulder-based Hippo Health, which officially launches today across the state of Colorado, is hoping to answer with a telemedicine platform focused on the idea of recreating the trusted, local physician-patient relationship.
"Hippo Health is 100 percent focused on improving the patient-provider experience and connecting people with their trusted local doctor; nothing is outsourced," Hippo Health CEO Dr. Kevin McGarvey said in a statement. "For the past two years we've been running a pilot program serving more than 200,000 people in Colorado. And what we found time and again is that what people really want is to connect with a local, established expert physician when they need to. They want to know and trust who's at the other end of the line. We built Hippo Health specifically to meet that need here in Colorado."
The direct-to-consumer subscription-based platform connects Coloradans to board-certified emergency physicians with a minimum of 10 years of experience. They connect via video call, chat, or phone call in an iOS app or on their desktop. Individual users pay $19 per month while a family of up to seven pays $37 per month.
The price is fairly competitive, but the company's strategy for differentiating itself in the crowded telemedicine market is to harken back to the old days of the family physician.
"When you’ve been miserably fighting off a chest infection for days and the medications aren’t helping, would you prefer to have a doctor pick a specialist out of a catalogue that might be able to help you? Or would you prefer your doctor calls up a colleague that has successfully treated chest infections fast?" the company writes on its website. "Option 2 certainly sounds better in our book. This is our vision for your care on Hippo Health. That’s why we’re committed to building a solid network of physicians -- our colleagues whom we know personally and trust -- to ensure you receive the best care your community has to offer when we can’t help you via the app."
Hippo makes a similar pitch to doctors -- that using this app will bring back a near-extinct element of social connection with patients.
The telemedicine market is still shaking out, but the trend for most of the big companies is to compete on volume and, increasingly, to be available in any state. Hippo Health will find out if there's room in the market for a telemedicine company that, as the company says, combines "high-tech healthcare with a hometown touch".