New York City-based SkyMD has officially launched its B2B teledermatology offering today, following a “soft launch” in October.
“If you look at our history, we launched into beta in March of 2015, so we've been live in some ways for a little over a year now,” CEO Eric Price told MobiHealthNews. “In our first few months we were very sort of closed, we were only working with 10 doctors to kind of pressure test the platform, figure out what works, what doesn't work.”
After that slow start, SkyMD has assembled a base that will enable the company to expand.
“At this point we've signed up a couple doctors in a few different locations, so we're over 50 doctors total,” Price said. “We’ve picked up doctors in different areas that are going to help us lead the market and now we're going big.”
SkyMD raised $800,000 last fall from angel investors including Blue Apron founder Matt Salzberg and Livestar founder Fritz Lanman. Price says they see themselves as having two major differentiators from the increasingly crowded telehealth space. One is their commitment to a B2B business model, with the doctor as the customer. Rather than contracting doctors, SkyMD offers a SaaS model that helps dermatologists build a telehealth offering into their existing practice.
“One of the interesting things about all the hype around telehealth today in the more D2C space — Teladoc, DoctorOnDemand, etc — is that doctors hear about this stuff and they want a piece of it, because they know that it's the future,” Price said. “They know that it may take some time, but ultimately people will be doing healthcare virtually, and no one is selling them a solution.”
Of course a few other telehealth companies are also selling that kind of offering, including Zipnosis and American Well. That’s where the company’s other differentiator comes into play, Price says: a focus on building tools for specific specialties — starting with dermatology.
“One of the interesting things for dermatology is if you look at video chat, which is the most common model out there for telehealth more broadly, it doesn't work well for dermatology, because on a video camera, you can't really see the same resolution that you can on an image,” Price said. “A video visit doesn't really solve the problem, so dermatologists need a more image-based solution. And that's another way that we differentiate: By offering them a solution that works for the way they want to treat.”
In addition to helping doctors build a virtual extension to their practice, SkyMD helps them market their services and get patients to sign up.
Price admitted that for some use cases — like the patient who has never seen a dermatologist before but wants reassurance about a rash or mole — the direct to consumer model will make more sense. But there’s room in the market for both business models.
“What we're trying to do is help doctors build their own brand through telehealth,” he said. “That won't work for every patient, that won't be what every patient is looking for, but we hope that there are patients who are looking for a doctor that's in their city, that if they need to come in they can go in, but they want to start that relationship virtually and we can help them do that. Or patients who are already seeing a dermatologist and they don't want to come in for a prescription refill or they don't want to come in for their follow-up, they can do that virtually.”
Price doesn’t plan to stop at dermatology, but he says the company will launch new specialties carefully and thoughtfully.
“As we grow into other specialties we will customize the solution to their needs,” he said. “I think that's one of the most important things about our company is that we're not a one-size-fits-all model, we're a specialty-specific solution and we will build around the workflows of these specialties as we move into them.”