Article | August 28, 2020

98point6 Is Transforming Virtual Health Care with Text-Based Primary Care

                                                                       Dr. Brad Younggren

Consumers today expect convenience in all aspects of their lives, including health care. Consumer Technology Association (CTA)® member 98point6 is meeting this need while maintaining quality of care.

The company offers private and secure text-based care via a mobile app. Its services include unlimited access to medical consults, diagnosis, treatment, ordering of labs and prescriptions, follow-ups and reminders.

98point6’s mission is to make primary care more accessible and affordable, inspiring early and frequent use to lead to a healthier life.

98point6 Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brad Younggren spoke to us about the company’s work and the future of health care.

How do the technologies behind the platform help optimize the patient experience and change the economics and accessibility of health care?

Our approach to primary care pairs machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) with the expertise of board-certified physicians to optimize the medical encounter. Rather than have doctors ask questions, gather patient history, chart information or follow up, our technology does it for them. Patient profiles are automatically built and our system learns from each visit, avoiding redundancy. This extends the reach of physicians and allows them to focus on their highest value activity: spending time treating patients, not doing paperwork.

We are fundamentally changing the cost of care delivery and passing on those savings to our customers. We are unique in the telehealth landscape in that we are the provider, and also building both the patient-facing and physician-facing technologies.

Do you think 98point6 and virtual care delivery platforms could be key in moving us toward more value-based care?

98point6’s digitally-enabled and on-demand service that delivers on the expectations of today’s consumer is well-suited to drive patients toward wellness and toward value-based care. 
  Dr. Brad Younggren 

A membership-based model that removes the financial trade-off to accessing care early and often and via the preferred mode of communication (text) inspires patients to actively engage in their health care and through the proper channels: getting diagnosis and treatment from board-certified physicians practicing evidence-based medicine.

Searching symptoms online is not the answer to convenient, quality care. An AI-assisted, mobile-based experience is also the ultimate way to understand social determinants of health; much of the data about a patient’s habits and life experience is lost in traditional social determinant measurements.

Additionally, value-based care must address the cost of care and patient engagement, as well as be a low-barrier option in sickness — for acute issues — and for proactive questions and concerns around chronic conditions and long-term well-being. 98point6 is setting out to accomplish these goals.

What has been 98point6’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak?

The events of the last few months have dramatically, and likely forever, altered our business landscape. Employers, health plans and health systems increasingly view a robust virtual care offering as an essential component of their benefits. At 98point6, patient health is our top priority, and our directly employed physician team, paired with our technology-assisted approach to care, have enabled us to react quickly to address the needs of our customers during the pandemic.

In March, we implemented the first version of our COVID-19 assessment, and we continually update clinical guidelines as soon as the latest U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations are available. In April, our clinical team established a COVID-19 testing site directory and helped coordinate patients with available options.

We’ve also more than tripled the capacity in our clinic since the beginning of the year, and we remain committed to keeping our members, partners and the community at large informed with a variety of materials and curated resources through our communication channels.

Virtual care is one of the most impactful tools we have in the fight against COVID-19, enabling patients to receive prompt evaluation of symptoms without risking exposure or potentially passing infection on to others. During this heightened and unprecedented time of need, 98point6 continues to be a key force in helping to flatten the curve and prevent further spread of the virus.

98point6 recently contributed to CTA’s new Virtual Care Principles and the AI in Health Care Standards. How are these guidelines significant to your company and the industry?

98point6 was proud to partner with CTA in ensuring that virtual solutions deliver quality care and outcomes while protecting the privacy of health care consumers and providing the best possible experience for patients. The principles help connect our values to our actions and ground the meaningful work this category is doing across numerous dimensions, including patient engagement, standards of care, continuity of care, prescribing and security.

Patient safety and quality of care are 98point6’s highest priorities, and we embrace efforts that aim to improve the standards for both. CTA’s virtual care principles give health care companies the necessary recommendations to protect consumer trust and improve virtual care as a whole.

Learn more about the CTA Guiding Principles on Virtual Care and AI in Health Care Standards.