3 ways healthtech startups are improving the patient experience
VC funding for healthtech startups is at an all-time high. Read on to find out how industry leaders are rethinking the healthcare experience, from app visits to doctor visits.
Published August 20, 2021
Last updated March 23, 2022
Never has the need for practical, accessible healthcare technology been more important.
In the ongoing aftermath of COVID-19, healthtech startups around the world are rising to the occasion (and raising huge funding rounds) to help reimagine the healthcare industry. Here are a few recent examples of healthtech making headlines:
- Digital healthtech startups raised a record $7.2 billion in VC funding in the first quarter of 2021
- New startup Dr. B promises a better way to distribute leftover vaccines
- Lyra Health, a healthtech startup that allows employers to provide personalized mental health care for employees, has achieved unicorn status
It’s hard to argue that we’ve reached a digital tipping point, and patients stand to benefit from the shift, whether through easier appointment scheduling or more availability of remote providers.
Read on to see how health tech startups are transforming the patient experience.
Helping patients manage benefits and find providers
The process of scheduling health appointments and managing care can be overwhelming, and it’s been made even more complicated in the wake of the pandemic. New tools are helping take the fuss out of managing care, and in some cases, evolving the way that doctors and patients sync with each other.
Collective Health is a healthtech company that provides an integrated benefits management system for employers. Through the Collective Health portal, patients can search for covered providers in their area, and if they have questions about coverage, they can start a live chat with a support agent. After the conversation, the agent can then follow up with a secure email to the customer confirming what they discussed.
Image courtesy of Collective Health
This type of service–where customers can easily switch between channels and retain important context–is called omnichannel customer service. It’s important because it gives customers greater control and flexibility, and it makes the process of finding care flow a lot more smoothly.
Another is Tytocare, a healthtech startup that created a home monitoring device that allows doctors to track a patient’s heart, lungs, abdomen, temperature and heart rate. The solution has come in handy for patients who weren’t comfortable visiting a doctor’s office in the midst of the pandemic, and has the potential to open up new avenues of care for the future.
Improving access to mental health tools and services
Since the pandemic, more people are struggling with mental health. Apps like Calm, which offers guided meditations, sleep stories, and mental health tips, are an important resource for people who may not otherwise be able to find care – or even afford it.
For those who do seek counseling, healthtech startups are also helping connect patients with providers via apps, or in some cases, text-based therapy.
Mindler, a Swedish company that connects patients with mental health providers virtually, is one example.
“That's what I tell my team … try to help the customer from the first interaction and get them satisfied because they're not feeling fine.”
Magnus Peterson, COO at Mindler
When we spoke to Mindler COO Magnus Peterson on the Sit Down Startup podcast, he shared an important perspective on helping customers who may be struggling with their mental health.
“That's what I tell my team … try to help the customer from the first interaction and get them satisfied because they're not feeling fine,” Peterson said on the podcast.
Solving a customer’s issue on the first try, also known as first contact resolution, is a helpful strategy for any customer service team, but it’s especially important when you have customers who could be in crisis.
Sometimes mental health issues make it hard to think. A common symptom is impaired executive functioning, which means that routine behaviors are difficult to complete. For example, emailing back-and-forth with a customer service agent could be mentally taxing and therefore, add to the user’s distress.
In this context, the ability to help your customers get fast, reliable assistance is not just good business–it’s the right thing to do.
Connecting the data dots for better COVID-19 prevention
It’s no surprise that the healthtech industry is surging following the COVID-19 pandemic. Startups are popping up all over to help address COVID-19 impacts globally, and they will play an important role in how we move forward as a collective to try to prevent future outbreaks.
One example is Biobot Analytics, a company that studies wastewater to better understand public health issues such as the opioid crisis. But when COVID-19 emerged in the United States in 2020, they pivoted to testing wastewater for the virus.
Biobot’s analytics and reporting is a key differentiator for them, and one of the key metrics they report is an estimate of how many new cases per day you can expect to see in a community.
Of course–this kind of information also comes with a lot of customer questions.
“It’s something that our founders were serious about—delivering a great customer experience—partly because other laboratories that might have similar scientific capabilities aren’t necessarily delivering that.”
Phil Kowalski, Director of Customer Success at Biobot Analytics
Phil Kowalski, Director of Customer Success at Biobot, said in an interview that engaging with customers and providing the most accurate information is an important differentiator for them.
“It’s something that our founders were serious about—delivering a great customer experience—partly because other laboratories that might have similar scientific capabilities aren’t necessarily delivering that,” says Kowalski.
Meanwhile, healthtech startups such as Zocdoc and Luma Health have been on the front lines of vaccine distribution and outreach efforts, helping patients find and secure available vaccine appointments while honoring HIPAA standards for patient privacy.
Health and tech need to work together
Following an unprecedented global pandemic that’s still unfolding, health is top of mind for many, and the surge in funding for healthtech startups proves just that. Investors and startups alike see an opportunity to transform healthcare and save lives.
We are proud to partner with hundreds of healthtech startups, and we are a sponsor of MassChallenge's annual healthtech competition that matches payors, providers, pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, etc. with qualified early-stage digital health ventures.
Through the Zendesk for Startups program, eligible early-stage startups can get six months of Zendesk customer service and sales software for free, plus access to our growing community of startup founders and CX leaders who can provide guidance and networking opportunities.
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