A little-known company behind several direct-to-consumer health brands is gaining a bigger presence. Wheel, an Austin-based startup, builds networks of clinicians that it contracts out to digital health startups as a white-label service.
The company recently raised $50 million in funding led by Lightspeed Ventures. It plans to use the funds to grow its team and build out more virtual care partnerships, CEO Michelle Davey wrote in an email.
“We have seen an explosion in demand for telemedicine across our daily lives from sessions with a physical therapist to advice from a specialist,” said Dr. Ling Wong, a senior advisor for Lightspeed, who will join the company’s board of directors. “Michelle and team are fundamentally building new healthcare infrastructure that will define and enable successful virtual care.
Wheel’s business has grown 300% year-over-year, in part driven by the recent influx of funding into digital health. Last year, the company delivered roughly half-a-million visits.
On average, it takes about 15 months to launch a virtual care service, not to mention the headaches of credentialing and navigating state licensing rules. As a multitude of companies spin up their own telehealth platforms, there’s a growing market for companies like Wheel.
“We often work with companies not only to launch their virtual care services but also to help them scale their businesses — either by managing increases in patient demand or expanding into new health care services,” Davey wrote in an email.
Although she wouldn’t name the company’s clients, many of them might sound familiar by description. It works with one startup to connect LGBTQ patinets with primary care clinicians trained to provide affirming care. In another case, it’s helping a big brick-and-mortar clinic expand through virtual primary care. In the near future, Wheel also plans to work with more traditional healthcare providers.
“We’ve also seen the most growth with companies that are outside of the healthcare industry but see the potential to expand into virtual care. For example, an on-demand delivery service that can deliver medication and refill prescriptions,” she wrote.
In the last year, Wheel has also found its own ways to expand. It added behavioral health services, and launched a white-labeled virtual care platform that supports both synchronous and asynchronous visits. Going forward, the company plans to expand into more specialties, triage and front-line care navigation.
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