Hims & Hers, an online mail-order health company that uses remote consultations to prescribe cosmetic and sexual health products, has rolled out a new app for users.
The app will offer almost identical services and links as the original platform, and will give users access to asynchronous healthcare visits and prescription products such as birth control and erectile dysfunction medication.
“The app is for our customers and is really a way to better connect and communicate after they have been on our platform and subscribe to services," Dr. Patrick Carroll, chief medical officer at Hims & Hers, told MobiHealthNews. "We want to make sure there is a frictionless way to communicate with providers and make any adjustments. It is really a communication and connector tool."
The company has also been working on tightening up its security and verification tools. Earlier this month it began implementing a new three-step security process.
First, when a patient registers on the platform they must upload a government-issued photo ID as well as a selfie. Once this is uploaded the system runs an algorithm to validate the ID and make sure it matches up to the selfie. If there is a discrepancy with the ID or the selfie/ID match, that is sent to the Hims & Hers fraud team.
This news comes seven months after Hims & Hers and its main competitor in the space, Roman, came under fire when a New York Times article examined the company’s prescribing practices. The article points out that the clients come to the platforms with a “self-diagnosis” and don’t need to see a doctor in person.
But Carroll stressed that the providers working for the organization are specifically trained to prescribe within telemedicine's capacity.
“If you look at the conditions we treat we train physicians on appropriate starting dosage so they are very comfortable, even though it is asynchronous. We [train] what is the appropriate starting dose and applications,” Carroll said.
He said that providers have to be board certified and take additional trainings on prescribing for the platform. He also noted that the assessment tool used on the site is a way to rule out if a patient is at high risk for complications.
“We look at whether or not the customers are appropriate,” he said. “Our platform is geared towards low-risk patients.”
This slew of news coincides with the announcement that former Cleveland Clinic CEO Dr. Toby Cosgrove has joined the company’s board.
WHY IT MATTERS
The increase of high-deductible health plans and broader technology has led to a rise in healthcare consumerization. Several companies like Hims & Hers have evolved to tackle this emerging trend. Carroll said the app very much caters to consumers for easy use and the growing demand for convenience.
However, there has also been a number of questions about these types of tools. The security platform is one attempt to tighten the ship.
THE LARGER TREND
Hims & Hers recently raised $100 million in funding — putting its valuation at over $1 billion. The platform started out specifically catering to men’s needs, but expanded to women’s health needs in 2018. The service now includes everything from erectile dysfunction treatment for men to birth control for women.
This isn’t the only telemedicine company in the space. The platform’s clear competitor is Ro, another online men’s health platform, which was launched in November 2017 and was initially focusing on erectile dysfunction. More recently the broader Roman brand has expanded its services into the smoking cessation field. In September the startup raked in $88 million in funding.