Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Nurx launches Maine Telemedicine Disease Prevention

William Payne
November 13, 2019

A US health tech company that uses telemedicine and mobile health apps to reduce the cost of care and provide healthcare to low income groups has expanded its operations into the US state of Maine in the country's north-east. Nurx operates a telemedicine platform to provide low income and minority groups with sexual health and disease prevention services.

Nurx uses its telemedicine platform to provide convenient access to sexual health needs. Nurx offers comprehensive birth control options that can be tailored to each patient's needs, including the pill, patch, ring, and shot - many of which are affordable and cost-effective for those with and without insurance. 

The majority of the company's patients said they've faced barriers to accessing birth control before learning about Nurx, including difficulty being able to pay for a doctor's appointment (43%), finding an available doctor's appointment (31%), and covering the cost of birth control (39%).

The company is the leading online provider of contraception in the United States, delivering personalised care to more than 200,000 patients across the country.

There are estimated to be more than 64,000 women in Maine who live in "contraceptive deserts", or areas where they face significant geographic barriers to contraceptive care.

This gap in healthcare access may increase due to a recent Federal Government regulation prohibiting health centres from receiving federal funding if they choose to provide programmes of contraceptive care. The so-called Title X "gag rule," which prohibits US health centres from receiving federal funding if they choose to provide comprehensive reproductive care. 

Instituted by President Richard Nixon in 1970, Title X funding provided over four million low-income Americans with affordable healthcare. In Maine, Title X funding provided nearly 24,000 low-income people health services, with birth control making up the majority of health needs.

"We're more committed than ever to provide people in Maine with the compassionate care they need and deserve, especially for sensitive health needs that can be difficult to access and are often tied to shame or judgement," said Nurx CEO Varsha Rao. "We are providing a patient-first healthcare experience with online consultations, home delivery of medication, and transparent and affordable pricing for people with and without health insurance."

Nurx aims to eliminate what it says is the average wait time of 24 days to find an available doctor's appointment, as well as the average two hours Americans spend driving to a doctor's office, sitting in the waiting room, and filling out forms for a limited amount of face-to-face time with the doctor. 

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine validated that "telecontraception" services, including Nurx, adhere to the same high standards of clinical care as practised in a traditional clinic setting.

After a patient shares their health history through the Nurx app, their Nurx medical provider will consult with the patient regarding their request within 1-2 days while the Nurx platform checks their insurance. If approved by their Nurx provider, medication and home testing kits arrive in discreet packaging at the patient's home within 3-5 days. After their initial consultation or exam, Nurx patients also have unlimited access to their provider, allowing them to ask as many questions about their health condition as they'd like.

Nurx recently introduced STI Home Test Kits, which allows patients to test themselves in their own home for many of the most common STIs. For patients who test positive, Nurx clinical providers offer oral antibiotic treatment when appropriate, or will work closely with each patient to make sure they get connected with in-person care.

Nurx offers PrEP, a daily pill that is up to 99 percent effective at ensuring HIV-negative people stay HIV-negative. Nurx claims to be the only company that allows patients to consult with a provider to determine if PrEP is right for them, complete the necessary lab work with its PrEP Home Test Kit, receive and fill the prescription, and have PrEP delivered straight to their door, without needing to visit a physical health centre.

Nurx also offers an HPV Home Test Kit, which allows women to check their risk for cervical cancer from their own home.

Nurx is available in 28 states and the District of Columbia. The full list includes Alabama, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and now Maine.