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Analysis

Digital Startups Scale Cheaper, Faster with On-Demand Physicians

By Mandy Roth  
   May 07, 2019

Growth of entrepreneurial sector spawns need for innovative approach to physician employment.

Digital startups often face enormous challenges scaling their solutions. Employing and training physicians who can provide virtual care services via a telehealth platform can create a substantial barrier to success, particularly if an initiative launches in multiple states. Health systems and hospitals starting new digital or telehealth ventures may encounter similar issues.

At least one company has spotted this trend and introduced a service designed to meet this emerging need by providing a virtual network of board-certified, National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) credentialed physicians in all 50 states who can be accessed on demand and paid per consult. Austin, Texas-based Enzyme Health's On Demand service helps startups scale quickly, minimize costs, compete more effectively against better capitalized companies, and focus on their core business, according to its clients.

Startup Reduces Costs and Quickly Expands Territory
 

"Our staff had to spend an extraordinary amount of time locating, recruiting, training, and onboarding providers to serve our members," says James Cowan, founder and CEO of Docity Health, a telehealth software company that bundles healthcare access for consumers in partnership with internet service providers across the country.

Because Enzyme has assumed administrative tasks related to provider training, recruitment, and credentialing, Cowen says his company has reduced costs, "while enhancing the quality of our clinician network." Another advantage? "We are able to quickly and efficiently launch in states that we otherwise would not have."

Focus is on Providing Service to Digital Startups
 

Enzyme's core business is matching telehealth physicians to digital companies, using a machine-learning platform to create ideal pairings.  Company co-founder and CEO Michelle Davey originally created the company to help physicians find telehealth employment solutions that would lead to more balance in their lives and escape burnout. She soon discovered the need for the on-demand service, which launched in April.

"Our biggest customers probably don't even exist yet," says Davey. "Our customers are early stage startups that have really innovative ideas about how to change healthcare and make it more accessible and affordable. Utilizing our on-demand network, they can get to market faster."

Contracting for physician this way also enables entrepreneurial companies to compete against larger startups that have significant backing or venture capital.

"It's really difficult to compete and market to the same kind of patient group, as some of those [better funded] companies," says Davey. "We're enabling companies that are bringing some different types of models to market to improve care and compete and scale with [those] that may have more money."

Ideal for Fluctuating Volume
 

"Enzyme's On Demand services are ideal for our growing company's patient volume, which can fluctuate from time to time," says Angie Im, director of operations for Alpha, which provides online access to providers who provide diagnosis and prescription services to women.

"We have enough provider coverage in states where we need help, and not where we don't," says Im. As the company gains licensure to operate in new states, Enzyme supplements Alpha's team with credentialed, licensed providers. Im reports that it may only take a few days to onboard any new on-demand physicians.

Mandy Roth is the innovations editor at HealthLeaders.

Photo credit: Shutterstock


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