Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Dermatology telemedicine start-up Spruce gets $15m series A funding

Steve Rogerson
April 15, 2015
 
California-based telemedicine start-up company Spruce has announced $15m series A financing and the launch of an expanded product that supports care for a broad set of dermatological conditions.
 
The company’s mobile app connects consumers directly with board-certified dermatologists for virtual visits and ongoing care, eliminating long appointment wait times and other inconveniences. The $15m financing was led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers with participation from Baseline Ventures, Cowboy Ventures and Google Ventures, which will support Spruce’s growth and national expansion.
 
“Patients and dermatologists have loved the experience Spruce provides for acne treatment, and we are excited to now enable high-quality care for a wide range of dermatological concerns,” said Ray Bradford, CEO of Spruce. “Skin conditions are the most common reason for a trip to the doctor’s office in the US, with one-third of the population experiencing at least one active skin disease at any given time. Yet there is an average 29-day wait time to see a dermatologist in America, and it can be time-intensive, inconvenient and expensive to seek treatment. With Spruce, we’re changing that.”
 
With the latest product release, it is possible to consult a board-certified dermatologist on Spruce for a wide range of dermatological conditions, including fine lines and wrinkles, skin discoloration, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, male hair loss, eyelash thinning, rashes, bug bites and stings.
 
Following a guided intake, patients take photos of their condition and answer the same medical questions they would answer during an in-person dermatologist appointment. Within 24 hours, a board-certified dermatologist reviews the case and the patient receives a personalised, easy-to-follow treatment plan. When appropriate, prescriptions are digitally routed to the patient’s preferred pharmacy.
 
The treatment plan includes prescription information, step-by-step regimen instructions, and condition-specific resource guides with dermatologist-recommended product suggestions and tips. Patients can build an ongoing relationship with their dermatologist on Spruce. In addition to the 30 days of messaging that are included with any visit, patients can initiate follow-up visits at any time or seek care for new concerns. If patients require in-person attention, their Spruce care coordinator will guide them.
 
Payment for treatment is a straightforward $40 per visit, compared with the $100-plus cost for an in-person visit. Spruce supports Apple Pay, and accepts major debit and credit cards, Health Care Spending Account (HSA) cards or Flexible Spending Account (FSA) cards.
 
“With Spruce, we’re trying to remove access barriers for patients, but we’re equally focused on how we can improve upon the care experience itself for bothpatients and dermatologists,” said Bradford. “One of the things dermatologists on Spruce like most is the opportunity for improved adherence and outcomes because patients have detailed instructions with them at all times and can ask follow-up questions. The Spruce software for dermatologists makes it easy for them to treat patients from IPads anytime, anywhere at a high standard of care. It also streamlines their workflows, so their time is spent on personalising care instead of paperwork and administration.”