Buoy Health CEO on what’s next for care navigation, consumer digital healthNovember 23, 2021
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change the healthcare landscape for consumers, MobiHealthNews caught up with Buoy Health CEO Andrew Le, who has been working on some of the trickiest health navigation challenges for years.
Le discusses what his company has been up to over the last year, the consumerization of healthcare and the brick-and-mortar vs. virtual care divide.
MobiHealthNews: I’d love to start off with a little bit of an overview of what Buoy has been up to since we last talked in February 2020. I know obviously COVID was a huge part of that. So if you could just talk to me a little bit about what’s been happening with the company and what you’ve been going through.
Le: I think back to the last time you and I chatted, but also just February 2020 until now, so much has happened. So as you remember the last time we chatted, [Buoy] basically updated our AI to understand when we should navigate people to COVID testing.
Because we have millions of people who use Buoy all the time, we started to see trends where we would see an area of high risk shortly before a confirmed case would pop up in that area. … The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and then the Commonwealth of Virginia tapped us to be a COVID navigation product during the pandemic, where we were basically customizing Buoy to all of the testing services in the state, as well as all the different telemedicine services offered in the state to help people navigate when they should talk to a doctor, when they don’t need to talk to a doctor, if they need testing, where testing is readily available right around the same time.
We then launched with United Healthcare, all of Cigna … so within the span of — I want to say like a month — we were eligible from a navigation perspective to more than 180 million Americans.
Right after that, we started really understanding the problem of navigation in the workspace. So when employers were going back, we built a product called Back With Care that helps employees navigate whether they could come back to work that day or not. Launched that in July of 2020. … At our peak, we had about 100,000 employees who had the kind of frontline navigator for purposes of returning to work that brought us into 2021. We raised our Series C at the end of last year, and in 2021 we started focusing a lot on navigating for non-COVID reasons. …
There’s a natural evolution of Buoy, going from like a navigation tool to being a marketplace that navigates and actually building services directly onto Buoy — not done by ourselves, but more by partner companies — such that once you do the navigation, we now can bring you into care. That’s kind of where we’re headed.
MobiHealthNews: Do you think that the consumerization of healthcare and patient engagement is really moving the dial on digital health or what’s out there? What’s the demand?
Le: Oh, definitely. It’s really fun to see this going back to 2017, like, four years ago, we were…