“We can order a pizza with an emoji, but the average American still has to wait 24 days for an appointment and lose over two hours of their life to visit the doctor.”
James Cowan is a Marine Corps veteran and father of four. While working for an on-demand home repair company, he noted the fragmented and tedious healthcare system that he and his wife had to deal with over and over again.
“I became frustrated at the number of times we had to go to the doctor when we already knew the diagnosis,” Cowan says. “The economic cost outside of healthcare in lost time, wages, and mental health is staggering. Our kids deserve better.”
But Cowan identified a solution, one that is becoming increasingly more common — telehealth. The global Telehealth market, which was about $3.1 billion in 2016, is expected to reach over $18 billion by 2024. Total telehealth visits increased 54 percent to almost 1.5 million in 2017, with 2 million visits projected for 2018 — a majority of Americans say they would at least consider a telehealth service for certain medical questions.
Cowan felt this was a way he could lessen the burden placed on the healthcare system for less serious medical conditions, so he founded Chattanooga, TN-based Docity, a HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform that works by partnering with communities and internet service providers to add telehealth access to their normal packages. So, for example, if you get Internet from a Docity partner, you might be able to add telehealth services to your Wi-Fi bill for as little as $30 a month.
The platform also helps providers schedule and coordinate their patient visits.
After a year of operation, Cowan added a co-founder — his first employee, Will Bewley. Bewley had grown up with family members that experienced medical problems and had firsthand experience with the pitfalls of healthcare. Together, they have grown the two-year-old company and plan to be operational in eight states by the end of the year.
Cowan shares more with Hype about their big goals for the healthcare system, as well as the challenges they experienced trying to raise funding.
Docity brings the clinic to the couch and the exam room to the living room by bundling livestreaming healthcare access to the home through on-bill partnerships with internet service providers across the country. Our service includes a digital otoscope to allow customers to livestream the inside of they or their family member’s ear, nose or throat to the doctor without leaving home. The entire service is priced at $30 or less each month.
What problem do you want to solve?
We will give families control over their healthcare again by eliminating 30 percent of all in person visits by 2030 at 30 percent of the cost.
What is the market impact?
Since the passing of the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare industry and telehealth, in particular, have been trying to disrupt a fragmented and confusing system by confusing and fragmenting it even more. We intend to take the cost of low-acuity healthcare (sinus infections, pink eye, etc.) out of the insurance system entirely while reducing the costs of other types of care.
What’s your revenue model?
Monthly subscription based service where most of the revenue goes to the provider and the remaining is split amongst ourselves and our Internet Service Provider (ISP) partner.
Have you experienced a company pivot?
Our original idea was to offer telehealth access as a monthly subscription, but we couldn’t just start there. So we spent over a year doing traditional B2B telehealth, marketing our products and services to provider groups, health systems, etc. It helped because it educated us on the system and produced revenue, but we ultimately were able to pivot back to our intended goal once we got a contract for an in-home telehealth trial with Chattanooga EPB, the forward-thinking ISP in Chattanooga.
Who are your competitors and why do you stand out?
Well, there are hundreds of telehealth companies. I don’t want to name them, but they are all trying to sell to hospitals, clinics or health insurance companies. A few are attempting direct-to-consumer.
What has been your biggest obstacle thus far?
Capital. We’ve found really great partners in Chattanooga and around the country and a truly receptive go-to-market channel in ISPs. But our overall strategy isn’t as simple as the elevator pitch we’ve distilled it down to. The complexities of the way we operate have required us to build relationships with our investors over time.
How have you funded the company?
My wife and I put $30,000 of our own money into the business to get it started and then raised $100,000 from some of our first clients. We recently opened an official seed round and have raised an additional $100,000 over the last 90 days.
How has your home in Chattanooga helped you grow?
We launched the company through the GIGTANK Accelerator in Chattanooga, and have clients throughout Tennessee, Florida, Georgia and in 3 other states. We also view the favorable tax climates in Tennessee and Florida as well as the spectacular lifestyles or Orlando and Chattanooga as pivotal to our presence there.
Are you hiring?
We are! Our operations office in Chattanooga hopes to add a Digital Health Associate or two in the next six months and we currently are searching for a part time Marketing/Graphic Design professional at our new office in the Medical City area of Orlando, FL. We plan to bring on a VP of Operations later this summer as well.
What are your next steps?
By January, we plan to have five staff and 12 programs operating in eight states. We’re also releasing the newest version of our software in June.
Photos provided by Docity. Article development by Holly Beilin