There is no shortage of telehealth companies and services in the healthcare market today. But one company wants to do things differently, drawing inspiration from the Israeli healthcare system.
Launched Jan. 1, Antidote was founded in Israel but has headquarters in New York City and operates in the United States. The telehealth provider currently serves patients in five states — Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and North Carolina — and recently launched a unique family health plan.
Per the plan, members pay a monthly fee of $59 for unlimited doctor visits, zero copays on most prescription medications and control over their medical records. Any member of a family that signs up for the plan can use the telehealth services.
The model mirrors the Israeli healthcare system, where patients pay a monthly membership fee to one of the large healthcare management organizations (HMOs) that operate in the country for a range of services included in their package, said Ben Enosh, co-founder and president of Antidote, in a phone interview.
“If you need to see your family doctor, all you have to do is set up the doctor visit with an application or call, and [if needed] that doctor [can] route you to the different offerings within the HMO,” he said.
For example, if a member needs a service their physician cannot provide, they are transferred to specialists within their HMO coverage.
“And everything is covered by your membership fee,” Enosh added.
Antidote was founded with this system in mind to reach the millions of Americans who are low-income or uninsured and struggling with rising healthcare costs, Enosh said. The proportion of Americans in this camp is growing, with one in five saying they cannot afford necessary healthcare services.
“Antidote comes from a certain philosophy,” he said. “The philosophy is that…every person is born with a fundamental right to receive proper medical care. The way that we are approaching it is we are looking at the population [in America] that doesn’t receive that right.”
Currently, the telehealth company only provides primary care services. It leverages artificial intelligence tools built into its application to triage patients and connect them to doctors 24/7. For example, if the patient is complaining about a headache, the triage bot asks questions to glean insights, like whether they drank a lot of alcohol recently. The patient’s responses are then delivered to the provider and can help streamline care, Enosh said.
Further, the company is able to provide some unique benefits, like three-way phone calls. This comes in especially handy for working parents, Enosh said. If they get a call from school that their child is ill, the parent can connect with the child and a telehealth provider via a three-way call to determine next steps, including if the child needs to be pulled out of school.
But the company is not just concerned about member satisfaction — it is also focused on the provider experience. To ensure ease of use on the provider side, the company automates administrative processes, including charting and checking for drug-to-drug interactions, Enosh said.
Launching in the U.S. after a public health crisis that spurred the use of telehealth, Antidote is operating in a crowded market. The company’s monthly fee is higher compared to others with similar offerings, but its no copay policy — combined with its inclusion of entire families on its plans — may set it apart from most competitors, like 98point6 and K Health.
Even with companies that offer unlimited virtual visits for up to seven dependents, like OurDoctor.com, Antidote still differentiates itself by not charging copays for most drugs.
Patients on Medicaid may also be tempted by the lack of copay. Though some insurers dropped copays for virtual visits for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries during the pandemic, these changes were mostly temporary.
Competition within the telehealth arena is expected to last long after the pandemic. In response, Antidote has big plans for the future.
Not only does the company plan to expand to Texas, California and Ohio next month, but it also aims to expand nationwide by the end of the year. In addition, it is looking to add some specialty care offerings, like services for hypertension and mental health.
As it puts its growth plans into action, Antidote’s central vision will not change, Enosh said.
“We are targeting a client base that has no alternative or their alternative is very expensive, therefore they are not getting proper healthcare,” he said. “We see it as our mission to provide services at an affordable price.”
Photo: Anastasia Usenko, Getty Images