Telemedicine/Telehealth is a rapidly evolving industry with some new companies hanging their shingle for the first time and others with a well-established track record. Because this industry is relatively new and laws are continually being passed at the state and federal level allowing various health providers to treat patients online, companies have to adapt and set themselves apart from other companies.
More and more individuals and companies are turning to telehealth/telemedicine services over traditional in-person doctor visits because of their busy lives and the convenience to get help with specific problems wherever they may be. With the significant interest by consumers, investors are putting money into telemedicine platforms.
This coalescing of factors forces Telemedicine/Telehealth companies to innovate. Sometimes these innovations are hit and other times they fall short, but we’re here to talk about the 20 Most Innovative Telehealth/Telemedicine Companies of 2021 that are hitting home runs!
What Is a Telemedicine/Telehealth Visit?
Maybe the concept of telemedicine/telehealth is somewhat new to you or you’ve never experienced a virtual visit with a healthcare provider, so let us explain what to expect. Telehealth/telemedicine can look different based on the particular company and healthcare provider you ultimately decide to select, but there are a few commonalities or characteristics you’re likely to come across.
Let’s start by simply breaking down the terms. The prefix tele- simply means ‘from a distance’ and medicine is the profession that deals with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Health tends to refer more to services and specific components of an individual’s life which includes the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of health. Often non-medical providers, such as counselors, psychologists, and other health practitioners are included in telehealth services.
Telehealth/telemedicine will likely occur via a video conferencing-like platform, but some telemedicine visits occur over a phone. The first step in setting up a telemedicine visit is choosing a telemedicine/telehealth company that best suits what you’re looking to get help with. Sometimes the customers are able to select particular providers while other companies pair the patient with the doctor that they think best matches the patient’s need.
Some companies ask their patients to download their company’s app, which has everything needed to perform the telemedicine/telehealth visit.
Filling out paperwork is something patients and doctors are not likely to get away from soon, but the paperwork is essential to ensure the healthcare provider has important health information needed to get you the help you need.
With an online telehealth/telemedicine visit, you’ll be prompted at some point to fill out a health history questionnaire that will include important information like past diagnosis, current diagnosis, medications currently being taken, and other relevant health information. All of this information once completed will be sent to your healthcare provider to look over generally before the first visit. Some companies will have a patient portal, which is a website or app, with lots of security to protect your health information, which patients can use to make changes to their health history or look up treatment recommendations that they received in past telehealth/telemedicine visits.
Yes, just like the doctors’ office you go to in-person, telemedicine/telehealth offices often have a virtual waiting room for patients, until the doctor or healthcare provider is ready for the appointment. What this typically looks like is the patient entering the telemedicine video platform and waiting until the doctor starts the meeting. Sometimes these virtual waiting rooms have chat boxes, which prompts the patient to type in anything that they need to remember to ask the healthcare provider during the visit.
You may be asking yourself, why would I wait in a virtual waiting room for a telehealth/telemedicine visit? Most of the time the waits for telehealth/telemedicine services are minimal, and some companies don’t even have virtual waiting rooms. The experience of waiting for the doctor to see you is made comfortable and convenient as you’re able to do this no matter where you’re located, whether that be the comfort of your own home or in a hotel room when you’re traveling for work.
The telehealth/telemedicine visit itself is very similar to the visit you would have at an in-person office. There are important limitations of course with these kinds of visits, such as certain physical exams cannot be performed. When the healthcare provider is in the meeting they are going to ask any clarifying questions they may have regarding the health questionnaire you filled out, such as specific doses of medication, etc.
Next, the healthcare practitioner is going to ask specifically what you’re looking to get addressed today and the relevant questions necessary to identify possible causes and determine if the condition can be treated safely without seeing a healthcare provider in person. The amount of time that is spent during your particular telehealth/telemedicine visit will depend partly on the company you choose and partly on the complexity of what you’re looking to get treated.
Once you’ve been evaluated by the healthcare provider they are going to make recommendations which they believe will resolve your concern. Sometimes this recommendation takes the form of additional counseling sessions if you’re seeing a therapist and other times it’s a medication.
Medications are often handled in one of two ways, either the medical provider calls in the prescription to a pharmacy near you or they may order the medication from a pharmacy that will ship the medication right to your doorstep.
If the healthcare provider feels like it’s necessary to get labs to determine potential underlying causes of your concern then they will ask that you get labs done at a local laboratory. The healthcare provider can order these labs for you even if they reside in a different state.
Often after your first visit and after you’ve had treatment recommendations, your provider will want to set up a follow-up visit to ensure that the treatment is working. Whether or not a follow up is necessary depends partially on the specific concern you’re looking to get addressed.
Occasionally, the healthcare provider taking your case may recommend that no treatment be started until you get evaluated in-person for your health concern. Telemedicine/telehealth providers are able to make referrals to specialists in your area if they feel that this is the best option.
Conditions Frequently Treated Using Telehealth/Telemedicine
Many common conditions can be treated safely using telehealth/telemedicine services, but there are conditions that will require that you see an in-person healthcare practitioner. Telehealth/telemedicine companies run into this question all the time and most of them list things that the providers that work for the company are willing to treat virtually.
Common conditions treated include:
- Sinus Infections
- Mild to moderate depression
- Mild to moderate anxiety
- Relationship difficulties
The list above is by no means a comprehensive list. If you’re unsure whether or not what you’re looking to get help with can be treated virtually we suggest that you search the website of commonly treated conditions. If you don’t see your condition listed your best bet may be to call or email the company directly.
The Criteria We Used to Formulate This List
There are many telemedicine companies out there that are pushing the boundaries and innovating, so you may be wondering how we landed on our top 20 Most Innovative Telehealth/Telemedicine Companies of 2021. We believe in transparency, which is why we’re giving you the criteria we used to select our top picks. Some of the criteria are given more weight than others because frankly, they are just more important.
- New services
One of the first questions we ask ourselves is whether these companies offer a service either not offered anywhere else or not offered by very many other companies.
Since telehealth and telemedicine companies use technology to provide their service we look into how each of the companies use technology to make the experience easier and more enjoyable.
- Enhancing existing services
It’s one thing to create an entirely new technology or service, but innovation also occurs when companies take a product or service which has been around and makes it significantly better.
- Customer Satisfaction
Innovation means very little if what is being innovated isn’t popular with customers. We look at what real-life users of the technology have to say about the company and their telehealth/telemedicine experience.
- Ancillary services/products
The services and products that make the telehealth/telemedicine visit more convenient for the patient also weighs into our decision. We ask ourselves, has the company gone above and beyond to provide an all-in-one destination for treatment of specific health concerns?
Landing in our top spot for most innovative telehealth/telemedicine company of 2021 is 98point6, which built its health platform around text-based primary care. The company developed a virtual assistant that functions much like a receptionist, in that you tell this assistant why you’re coming in and it will connect you with a board-certified physician. The physician will ask questions and assess your condition via text messaging in their app. The platform supports audio and video communication if the providers feel that it’s necessary. Once a diagnosis is reached and the doctor feels like they can treat the condition safely through this platform they’ll call in the prescription or labs to your local pharmacy or lab provider.
Coming into our number two spot for most innovative telehealth/telemedicine company is Livongo. This company pushes the boundaries with its philosophy surrounding personal health plans that allow you to work with health coaches who will hold you accountable to health goals and work with you to solve barriers that may arise. The platform allows you to share the progress you make on health goals with your doctor. The website also provides access to health-related articles such as exercise routines and veggie recipes. This platform focuses heavily on chronic diseases, which requires lifestyle modifications for successful treatment like diabetes, weight management, behavioral health issues, and high blood pressure.
3. Amazon Care
It may come as a surprise to some, or possibly not considering the size of Amazon, that this company is at the forefront of innovation in telehealth/telemedicine. The company is built around providing comprehensive care which includes connecting you with doctors via telemedicine without long waits and contact-free prescription delivery. What also establishes this platform as an innovation giant is that the company sends someone to your home for certain labs, tests, or treatments. This model gives you the best of both telemedicine and in-office treatment.
With millions of users, iCliniq is not new to the telemedicine field and the company reports having over 3,500 doctors with over 80 areas of specialities ready to serve patients through telemedicine. What makes this company innovative is its focus on ex-pats and those traveling out of the country. When traveling abroad you’ll want to ensure you’re informed and prepared for common illnesses that may be specific to each country or region of the world. iCliniq has doctors ready to make preparation easy and straightforward. The company also states that you won’t be waiting to get your concerns addressed as there are no queues for patients.
5. Maven Clinic
Women now have a telemedicine platform specifically created to address the unique needs of women’s health. This clinic also helps guide women in all stages of family planning from fertility all the way through postnatal care. The company proudly boasts they have a 20% lower C-section rate and 32% lower neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admission rate. The company also founded the Maven Foundation, which gives free in-person and virtual care to women and families in New York City unable to afford proper medical treatment. The company even simplifies the process of getting telemedicine care by connecting each patient to care advocates.
SteadyMD is a telemedicine company built on the concept, which is even in its name, that patients and medical providers should get to know one another over time. It’s this building of deep and steady relationships via a virtual platform that we find innovative. Patients can even order at-home lab testing, which medical providers either approve or deny based on the patient’s clinical picture. Once the test is sent to the patient’s house and sent back to the lab, a visit will be set up to review the lab findings.
Teladoc is a complete telemedicine company that provides general medical care and mental health care. They also provide wellness care, which is more than just the treatment of disease, it’s the prevention of illness that may occur in the future. Teladoc can be the answer for a wide variety of people as the company is able to serve patients who speak over 30 different languages. This company also allows patients access to leading specialists in their field of medicine which is ideal for individuals who are looking for a second opinion or look at a medical diagnosis.
8. Second Opinions
What makes Second Opinion unique is that it’s a telehealth/telemedicine service built around offering second opinions on medical diagnosis. The company has gathered a team of experts in radiology, oncology, orthopedic surgery, spine surgery, and other specialties that are able to give your medical history and diagnosis another evaluation to ensure the treatments are appropriate. The company even offers medical legal services with second opinions for those in need of licensed physicians to evaluate the medical care of other physicians.
HealthTap is a telehealth/telemedicine company that has been serving remote patients for more than 15 years. What is the benefit for treating virtual patients for so long? Well, when the company first came into creation many of the medical questions were answered via written text, and over the years this data has accumulated. Today you have a telehealth company with experienced doctors and tons of articles and medical questions answered. Maybe it was unintended but sometimes innovation isn’t intentional!
Becoming a new parent can be both an exciting and terrifying experience. On the one hand, you’ve created a little human being that shares your genes. On the other, your baby seems so fragile, and you’re often left wondering what the right thing to do for your baby in certain circumstances. This is where Pacify comes in as a telehealth company created to give advice to new parents on the health and well-being of their little one.
11. Spruce Health
Allows patients and doctors to communicate separately at times that work best for each. This kind of communication ends up looking like a string of text messages, but is perfect for those who have health questions they don’t need immediate answers to and who are living busy lives.
12. Sesame Care
This service has a specific focus on certain prescription drug refills. Skip the time and hassle of a long visit by getting to the point and your medication refilled.
13. Lemonaid Health
Lemonaid Health is a telehealth/telemedicine company that spends a little extra time focusing on conditions such as insomnia, depression, erectile dysfunction, and more. The platform is set up to intuitively guide patients to get to the right healthcare provider.
Ginger is a telehealth company that focuses on mental health. The service goes beyond virtual visits with licensed mental health experts and provides free mental health resources for various different mental health concerns.
Forhims is a unique and innovative telehealth/telemedicine company that has made an entire business out of eliminating the common embarrassment felt by men with sexual issues like premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. The company also focuses on other male problems and provides men’s primary care telemedicine.
We can’t forget the health and wellbeing of our animal companions and Airvet is a company that delivers veterinary expertise about what may be going on with your pet virtually, without distressing your pet by taking them into the vet’s office.
MeMD is a company that focuses on general medicine as well as mental health treatment. The company stands out in that it has a specific focus on teen therapy.
Betterhelp is a telehealth company that treats common mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, among others. It’s niche is that it focuses on individuals with a strong religious faith, but also those without any religious faith.
If looking to get help with a skin or nail concern then look no farther than DermatologistOnCall. The company takes its game to the next level by focusing on nail concerns, which is a condition not typically treated in other telemedicine platforms.
Innovating in the dental space is TheTeleDentist which is a telehealth company that specializes in second opinions of other dentists and also appointments to get quick assessments and prescribed non-narcotic medication for dental pain.