NShealthcare provider igital Nurx — offering online birth control prescriptions, STI screening and prescription medication, and migraine care — has now expanded into acne care. fish at home. For $35, all patients with mild to moderate acne — whether they’re insured or not — can get a primary medical consultation, home medication delivery, and 10-week follow-up visits.

While acne care may seem like a giant leap from a company that has built its reputation (with over a million patients) primarily in reproductive health care, Nancy Shannon MD, clinical research lead for Nurx, says the company has added acne to its portfolio. concern as a response to a patient’s existing need. According to a survey from Nurx, 85% of their patients said they were experiencing an acne problem, but only 7% of them reported being under the care of a dermatologist.

Dr. Shannon said that because the company works with 350,000 birth control patients, it has special expertise in hormonal issues that cause significant amounts of acne in the age groups it treats. “More than half of the patients who come to us for birth control have concerns about acne — we see it on their medical charts [or] They’re asking us to provide that service,” said Dr. Shannon. And while we don’t advertise it as an acne care service, certainly many women who find us birth control also come because they realize that birth control pills can help with acne or because their dermatologist referred them to Nurx for help with birth control. “

For these reasons, acne care has been in the company’s interest long before the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year’s circumstances have increased demand for this type of care, said Dr. Dr. Shannon said. After all, it’s hard to see a doctor in person, and no matter how bad a breakout is, some people would rather stay home than risk a technically unnecessary appointment. At the same time, Dr. Shannon adds, “masking,” aka COVID-protective masked acne, caused or exacerbated acne for 66% of current Nurx patients surveyed.

But it’s difficult to get a dermatologist’s schedule even at the most opportune times, Dr. Shannon points out. “We don’t want patients to wait,” she said. “We want them to be able to pick up the phone, open an app, ask someone for help, and get medication if indicated, within a week. That’s our dream.”

Topical dermatology exams can also be expensive. While medication costs aren’t included in Nurx’s $35 price list, the company’s consultations are still a small fraction of what direct equivalent care would likely have to pay, especially for the uninsured. “What we’re trying to do with this line of acne care products – just like we do with migraine care, birth control, HIV PrEP and STIs – is people mastery of medicine and healthcare and make it more accessible to everyone,” said Dr. Shannon. The Nurx team has been “working really hard” to make their acne prescriptions affordable for the uninsured, she added, and has partnered with pharmacies that have insurance. for people who are sick. (Prescriptions can also be sent to the patient’s preferred pharmacy.)

This does not mean that the company will default to using the drug in all situations; Nurx providers will provide an integrated approach to care. “What we want people to do is think about how they take care of themselves and that affects whether or not they are getting acne,” says Dr. Shannon. drinking, etc. can all affect acne problems. “And there are some really good over-the-counter medicines that can be used alongside prescription drugs, and we’ll certainly be directing people to those drugs when appropriate,” she added.

Of course, Nurx isn’t the first to market dermatological (and specifically acne-related) telehealth products. Hims & Hers also offers acne care; however, they use a free survey form to customize prescription creams that patients then purchase as subscriptions, rather than prescribing existing medications purchased through pharmacies. (Hers, however, provides separate prescriptions for birth control pills.) Rory, Apostrophe, and Dermatica use similar models. This approach allows for a free consultation but requires payment for the treatment (e.g. custom cream). Nurx’s approach, on the other hand, requires out-of-pocket costs for consultations but may allow clients to reduce prescribing costs for insured patients. Many regular dermatologists also offer telemedicine visits to patients during the pandemic, but in most cases a regular visit fee will apply.

As for dermatology services, Nurx doesn’t plan to stop at acne care either. While she doesn’t know exactly what’s going on, Dr Shannon said Nurx hopes to expand into customers outside of their current age group, which tend to be younger. “Even as they get older, people have skin conditions and skin concerns that affect how they feel about themselves and how they interact with others,” she says. “We want to help them and not just limit ourselves to the youth group with acne.”

It should be noted that many telemedicine services – including Nurx’s acne care service – are not yet available in every state due to different laws. But Dr Shannon says this is slowly changing as a result of the pandemic, and she expects expansion. And there are compelling arguments for telehealth beyond this crisis — the cost and convenience issues of home care have existed long before COVID-19 and Nurx aims to remove much of the burden that our current healthcare system places on patients. Dr Shannon said: “We hope that contacting us is like picking up your phone and sending a text message to a friend. “You don’t have to take a day off work, you don’t have to try to find someone to take care of your kids or anything — you just do it when it’s convenient for you.”

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