Hydrogen Health looks to primary care for next virtual care offering

Hydrogen Health, a startup born out of a venture between K Health, Blackstone Growth and Anthem, unveiled a new virtual primary care product aimed at self-insured employers and insurers. 

The New York-based company is also expanding its diagnosis and management services to treat more chronic conditions. The service employs K Health’s artificial intelligence and a network of clinicians to offer digital remote care.

Currently, patients can use the service for text-based chats and video visits regarding urgent, chronic or pediatric conditions. Patients are also able to use the personalized symptom checker and self-care tools. 

Today’s announcement is focused on the company’s primary care tool. It pitches this tool as different from traditional primary care players in that no appointments are needed, it’s virtual, there’s a digital record of care, and patients can access on-demand wellness checkups. 

WHY IT MATTERS 

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, by 2033 there could be a shortage of between 21,400 and 55,200 primary care physicians. Hydrogen Health is positioning its new tool as a way to cut down on costs and curb unnecessary medical visits. 

“Too many people rely unnecessarily on the ER and urgent care for things that a primary care doctor could’ve handled, resulting in wasted costs and time, and sub-par experiences,” said Allon Bloch, CEO and cofounder of Hydrogen Health and K Health.

“Hydrogen Health puts 24/7 doctors right into people’s pockets, armed with more medical data than you can imagine, to make primary care less of a hassle and more impactful than ever before.”

THE LARGER TREND 

Primary care is becoming a big focus for virtual health companies. In October, Teladoc launched Primary360, a new primary care offering available for health plans, employers and other payers.  

Hybrid care providers Carbon Health and One Medial both have roots in the primary care space. They have expanded to include chronic care and other conditions as well. 

Some industry insiders are predicting the tech will upend traditional primary care. Jonathan Bush, Zus founder and executive chairman of virtual care company Firefly Health, said that the mindset behind primary care needs to change. 

“People who still say primary care and expect that sort of holier-than-thou person who comes in from work every year to get birth control and a pap smear, I think they’re going to lose,” Bush told MobiHealthNews in October.

“I think someone who’s saying, don’t worry about primary care. This is care. … If I need to grab someone from Dana Farber along this chat, I’m going to grab [them]. You don’t have to go anywhere.”

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