Consumers, health providers, and insurers are just now getting comfortable with the idea that many types of face-to-face doctor visits can be replaced with less expensive virtual visits.
A new telemedicine app called Spruce launched today in the App Store, with an Android app coming soon. The app connects users with a board-certified physician for the remote diagnosis and treatment of common medical conditions. Each visit costs $40, the majority of which goes to the physician, Spruce Health CEO Ray Bradford tells VentureBeat.
At launch the Spruce app will be used for treating people with acne problems. Why acne? Because a surprising number of people suffer from it, and not just teenagers. Bradford says half of all women in their 20s and 30s have acne.
It’s also really hard to get an appointment with a dermatologist to treat the problem. The average wait time is 30 days for an in-person visit. As many as 80 percent of acne sufferers end up never talking to a doctor about it.
“There’s a lot of pent-up demand to see a dermatologist,” Bradford says.
Here’s how the Spruce app works. First, the user shares photos and medical information with a board-certified dermatologist, and within 24 hours a dermatologist reviews the information and sends a personalized treatment plan back to the user’s phone. A prescription is sent to the user’s pharmacy if needed. Importantly, the user can always refer to the app for exact aftercare instructions, Bradford says.
San Francisco-based Spruce says it worked closely with top board-certified dermatologists to understand their approach and workflows for treating patients with acne, and designed software to address frustrations both patients and doctors experience.
Bradford would not divulge the size of the network of dermatologists that are doing the virtual consults, but he stresses that there are enough of them to meet the 24-hour turnaround time.
Spruce intends to offer other types of virtual doctor consults in the future.
Spruce was founded by Bradford last year. The company has so far raised a $2 million round of seed funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Baseline Ventures, and Cowboy Ventures.