A combination of investor interest and new customers allowed direct-to-consumer digital health businesses like NURX Inc. to expand into new therapies, and CEO Varsha Rao said the company is not done growing.
Nurx, which began as a birth control pill home delivery service, added programs such as migraine treatment and at-home STI testing since the company's inception. In March, it launched acne treatment as its first product in a dermatology portfolio, later adding sun-related aging conditions and, most recently, rosacea treatment.
The San Francisco-based company is not the only direct-to-consumer business — companies that offer services to consumers without a middleman like employers or health plans — branching out on the back of increased interest from investors and customers. Hims & Hers Health Inc., a telemedicine company that offers wellness products like over-the-counter drugs and supplements, went public via a reverse-merger transaction with blank-check company Oaktree Acquisition Corp. in January. Meanwhile, health tech company Roman Health Ventures Inc., known as Ro, raised $500 million in a March series D funding round and recently announced its acquisition of Modern Fertility Inc., which offers fertility testing kits online.
Nurx CEO Varsha Rao, a former executive at Airbnb Inc. and Clover Health Investments Corp., told S&P Global Market intelligence that over 50% of the company's patients identified acne and other dermatological issues as areas of concern, which led the business to add dermatologists and skin treatment options to its platform. Its latest launch of rosacea treatment further builds on the company's mission to increase access to treatment options for underserved conditions, Rao said.
"We often see that rosacea is missed or misdiagnosed in people of color because redness and other skin concerns are sometimes less immediately apparent on darker skin, and so it can be diagnosed later for people of color and that also can mean increased risk of scarring," Rao said in an interview.
The new program will allow users to take pictures of their faces to send to Nurx's clinicians who are able to make a diagnosis and, if needed, prescribe medications to be delivered to patients' homes.
Nurx's $52 million series C funding round in 2019 helped position the company for some of its new platform offerings, but as with other telehealth and digital health companies, COVID-19 accelerated its growth. The CEO noted that Nurx currently serves around 325,000 customers and had 7.2 million touchpoints with these patients, about half of which were in 2020 alone.
With the increased emphasis on virtual care in the COVID-19 era, many digital health companies have taken the consolidation route. Major players, like Livongo Health and Teladoc Health Inc., as well as Grand Rounds, Inc. and Doctor on Demand Inc., merged to form single companies that cover a wider range of health needs.
Rao said Nurx is starting to explore future acquisitions or partnerships that could help the company expand into even more new use cases.
"Right now we do at-home testing ... but we see that there's opportunities to do more complex testing at home. And that could be something that is really exciting to expand into. We see that there are opportunities to continue to build relationships with other care partners where we can offer our clinical care [and] our expertise, and they have large populations that are not able to access care," Rao said.
"We are really just focused on continuing to evolve our platform. We now are much broader than what we were even two years ago."