Telemedicine’s popularity amid the early stages of the pandemic rose exponentially, bringing to light the existing digital divide in America’s healthcare system.
Thanks to telehealth startups like HealNow — which is considered the New York-based DoorDash for pharmacies — we’re beginning to see more and more digitized solutions for pharmacies to conveniently connect with patients in their areas.
The pandemic amplified patients’ concerns with retrieving their medication in-person, and so HealNow stepped in to fill a void that is directly connecting pharmacies with the patients they serve.
“What we really wanted to do was bridge the gap between pharmacies and their patients by giving them technology so that patients could pay co-payments online, schedule deliveries/pickup, and answer any questions pharmacists usually ask in person or over the phone,” HealNow co-founder Halston Prox said to AfroTech.
Prior to launching HealNow alongside co-founder Joshua Smith, Prox had nearly a decade worth of experience in the healthcare industry implementing electronic medical records software with health systems such as Mount Sinai and Baylor Scott and White.
According to Prox, it was that valuable experience that served as the “driving force of why we started HealNow.”
As our society quickly moves toward a more tech-focused future, it’s important that startups like HealNow rise to the occasion and help modernize today’s patient experience to meet high demands and lead the future of telehealth.
“Patients want access to pay for prescriptions like they pay for food, or bills, and so forth,” Prox shared with us. “There’s no reason for patients to have to continue to call or go into a pharmacy to pay for a prescription when there is a digital solution out there.”
Now a year into the pandemic, pharmacies have proven to operate more efficiently on the account of HealNow’s digital platform simplifying tasks that were previously considered a hassle to keep up with.
Like some industries that saw an uptick in business during the pandemic, HealNow also experienced an increased wave of pharmacies reaching out to them.
“When COVID-19 hit New York really bad, we got an influx of new customers and it was mainly due to the fact that these pharmacies were going into skeleton crews (reduced staff), but were continuing to get many, many calls,” Prox revealed.
In spite of this, HealNow was able to become a reliable pillar and source of help for independent pharmacies to be able to now compete with larger corporations like Amazon and CVS who already have digital databases in place for their customers.
As the recipients of the SoftBank Opportunity Fund — a $100 million venture fund dedicated to supporting and building a community of outstanding Black, Latinx, and Native American founders — HealNow was able to close a $1.3 million seed round to help scale the company’s growth.
Following this summer’s social reckoning that called out industries at large to fix their diversity problems, we’ve seen a slew of dedicated funds and grant programs rollout to right company wrongs.
Much like SoftBank’s initiative, Prox believes hefty funds like this are more than needed to support the effort of Black business owners everywhere.
“There has been diversity funds that [have existed] for a very long time, but typically the check size is very small,” he said. “What we’re starting to see now is more and more funds are taking that risk very early on with companies like ourselves, and that’s what Black founders need. We need funds who are going to lead rounds and also have a bigger check size to show that they see value in Black founders.”
In relation to their newfound funding, HealNow has focused its efforts on hiring more salespeople and engineers as it sets its sights on expansion plans down the rest of the east coast and out west. Prox also shares that the company plans to “acquire hundreds of new pharmacies across the country.”
As we continue to see new tech trends spread across the healthcare industry, we recognize leaders like HealNow who have set the tone for what modern-day digital tools look like for the medical field.
“I think this trend of digital health will continue for consumers as we start to modernize healthcare,” Prox told AfroTech. “You see telemedicine and telehealth companies coming about and actually thriving during COVID. We think there’s going to be more companies like ours to solve specific healthcare problems in the years to come.”
At the end of the day, HealNow’s mission lies in equipping thousands of independent pharmacies across the country with affordable technology that levels the playing fields among the PillPacks and Rite-Aids of the world.
For more information about HealNow, visit its website.