By ANN MOND JOHNSON
I’ve worked in enough start ups to know that creating something from nothing can be hard. It is especially tough when you must create a market and explain to people that what you’re doing isn’t nearly as heretical as it may sound. When my friends and I started Subimo in 2000, people wondered why they’d use our product to learn about hospital performance when (in their words) all they really needed was to have their doctor to tell them which hospital they should use. What people eventually realized was that there is variation in outcomes by hospitals and even by service lines within hospitals.
That’s why the recent spate of articles about the newly emerging direct-to-consumer companies in health care – the ones that are condition-specific like HIMS, Ro and Keeps – fascinate me. These are companies that have leveraged all we know about direct-to-consumer marketing and have identified an unmet market need. In some respects, they’re not dissimilar from companies like Simple Contacts or 1.800 Contacts or Visibly – companies that offer a convenient way for people to get what they need (in this case, good vision). Or companies that offer behavioral health services directly to consumers.
What do these companies have in common? Aside from a strong marketing foundation, they have identified a market need that can be met with a new approach that leverages technology. They are convenient, offer a high level of customer service and may even be easier to work with than traditional players.