Telemedicine startup Doctor on Demand has inked a deal with CVS pharmacy that the startup's CEO Adam Jackson expects will ultimately introduce millions of new clients to its platform.

CVS Health on Wednesday announced plans to partner with Doctor on Demand, as well as telemedicine companies American Well and Teladoc, to explore ways of expanding the pharmacy's telehealth options for consumers.

For Doctor on Demand, the new relationship is "as big if not bigger of a deal" as the startup's selection as a provider of virtual visits by major health care providers such as United Healthcare and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, says Jackson. In terms of exposure, it could equal or surpass the publicity the company gets from frequent mentions on Dr. Phil and The Doctors. Phil McGraw and his son Jay had the initial idea for Doctor on Demand in 2012 and remain very involved with the business.

While the relationships with insurance companies have made Doctor on Demand more accessible financially to more people, the CVS deal acts as a more direct outreach tool, putting Doctor on Demand in front of a significant number of new eyeballs.

The deal also acts as a key endorsement for the startup by a widely recognized corporation, notes Jackson. With roughly 8,000 locations, CVS is the second largest pharmacy chain in the United States. 

Jackson says the three-year-old company is prepared for the influx of clients, which he said will ramp up over time as CVS unrolls the new options state by state.

"I have nothing but anxiety, in general -– [but] it has nothing to do with CVS," Jackson jokes to Inc.

"Fortunately this isn't our first rodeo" with a major player in health care, he continues.

The CEO says the company started maintaining a waitlist early on of doctors seeking to offer their services full time through the application for on-demand video consultations. With the anticipated initial increase in the range of tens of thousands of new patients as CVS starts offering options with Doctor on Demand in half a dozen flagship states, that wait list will get a little shorter.

As part of the partnership, CVS and Doctor on Demand will refer patients to each company's services as appropriate. For example, at CVS locations that lack the pharmacy's walk-in Minute Clinic services, staff can refer patients to Doctor on Demand as an alternative. CVS will also link to Doctor on Demand from its website, and Doctor on Demand doctors will refer clients to Minute Clinic for the walk-in clinic's services. 

Jackson says Doctor on Demand services could also ultimately become available in store. The startup already has such an arrangement with Wegmans, a smaller pharmacy/grocery chain with locations along the Eastern Shore Board. Wegmans offers Doctor on Demand on iPads found in-store, says Jackson.

Partnering with pharmacies could be a major part of the direction of Doctor on Demand as the company grows, but Jackson says he isn't yet sure.

"It's too early for me to say, 'Oh, this is going to be the horse we ride away into the night on,' " says Jackson.

He says the partnership will of course be good for the company's valuation, but "I can't say yet how good."

The company raised $50 million in Series B funding in June, according to TechCrunch


Published on: Aug 26, 2015