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The 10 most innovative health companies of 2021

Why Ping An Good Doctor, GoodRx, Level Ex, and more made our annual list of the most innovative health companies.

The 10 most innovative health companies of 2021
[Icon: Assignment Studios]
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This year’s Most Innovative Health companies list continues a years-long trend toward telemedicine, as annual checkups, chronic-illness management, and urgent care visits got rescheduled and reshuffled by the pandemic. Winners include remote care for diabetes and hypertension and opioid addiction, as well as tools to find, compare, and onboard with telehealth providers.

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1. Ping An Good Doctor

For demonstrating how large-scale telehealth services can work

Backed by Ping An Insurance Group, Shanghai-based Ping An Good Doctor connects patients with prescription services and online doctors appointments through its mobile app. It also uses artificial intelligence to screen patients and make more efficient use of a doctor’s time. In January, the company launched a portal specifically for COVID-19 related consultations. The company says in three weeks, the portal reached a billion visits. Ping An Good Doctor has 373 million registered users, 73 million are active monthly and nearly 4 million are monthly paying users.

2. Teladoc Health

For growing to treat patients with diabetes and hypertension via a merger with Livongo

Teleheath provider Teladoc expanded its offerings in 2020 by merging with Livongo, a digital health company that builds out remote healthcare for patients that suffer from diabetes and hypertension. The merger came after Livongo launched a successful IPO and expanded into behavioral health to help patients navigate depression and anxiety.

3. GoodRx

For evaluating telehealth companies as well as it evaluates prescriptions

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GoodRx gives patients the down low on what pharmacy is offering the best price on a prescription. During the pandemic it pivoted to help patients find online doctors too, by launching a telehealth marketplace. GoodRx has vetted over 100 providers of telehealth services.

4. TytoCare

For transmitting vital visuals, stats, and symptoms to remote doctors

How much can a doctor do through a screen? A lot. TytoCare has created an at home device that lets doctors monitor a patient’s heart, lungs, ears, throat, abdomen, temperature, and heart rate remotely. The company works with 50 health care providers including American Well, Ochsner Anywhere Care, Sanford Health, Epic App, and Orchard. It also integrates with EPIC’s electronic health record system. During the pandemic, when people were scared to go to the doctors office, TytoCare’s telehealth device offered a more routine doctor’s visit from home. The device is sold at Best Buy.

5. Level Ex

For preparing doctors to navigate airway management, intubation, and diagnosis during COVID-19

Level Ex has long been making video games that let doctors practice common procedures on their phones. Under COVID-19, the company moved quickly to help doctors brush up on airway management, intubation, and diagnosis.

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6. Boulder Care

For figuring out remote opioid addiction treatment

Boulder Care is a telehealth platform for people suffering from opioid addiction. The program combines prescription medication with multiple tiers of support. If the doctor thinks a patient is a good fit for the program, they prescribe buprenorphine, a medication that’s used to help people wean off of stronger opioids. Patients also get a peer coach, who provides emotional support, and a care advocate, who acts like a social worker and can connect patients with resources like housing, work, or mental health care. Boulder is working with health insurer Premera Blue Cross and has rolled out in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon.

[Illustration: Klawe Rzeczy]

7. The Confess Project

For envisioning barbershops as mental health hubs for Black men and boys

Based in Little Rock, Arkansas, the Confess Project is bringing mental health care to Black men through a novel venue: the barbershop. The nonprofit trains barbers throughout the South and Midwest to be mental health advocates— creating a space where men and boys can talk freely about feelings. The program works with local mental health resources and programs, which barbers can direct clients to as needed. In 2020, the nonprofit expanded to 150 advocates across 14 states, and partnered with Gillette to extend its reach. The organization also provides trainings for educators, mental health professionals, and law enforcement on trauma-informed care and suicide prevention.

8. Signify Health

For checking in on at-risk seniors at home

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Signify has the U.S.’s largest mobile network of healthcare professionals who do in-home check ups. Across the U.S. the company saw 1.5 million Americans in 2020. This year, in Philadelphia, the company launched an index to assess most at-risk seniors and do preventative checkups with Independence Blue Cross. The company uses a value based system of care, which means insurers pay for the totality of a patient’s care rather than individual services.

9. Labcorp

For mobilizing to distribute and process millions of COVID-19 tests

Labcorp is one of the two of the main testing companies charged with distributing COVID-19 testing supplies across the U.S. It also set up infrastructure with six drug companies for at-home reporting for people in vaccine trials. In addition to responding rapidly to COVID-19 and supplying health systems with the necessary supplies, the company created the first at-home COVID test.

10. Honeybee Health

For devising a way for the under- and uninsured to get their meds, for cheap

Honeybee Health is an online pharmacy founded by two pharmacists. The direct-to-consumer pharmacy aims to radically lower the cost of drugs by working with generic drug manufacturers and cutting out pharmacy benefit managers, the typical middlemen that radically increase drug prices between the manufacturer and consumer. The company does not accept insurance, selling drugs for a flat price to under- and uninsured patients. The company says it saves patients, on average, 80% on their prescriptions. In September, after many abortion clinics were forced to shutdown, it became the first online pharmacy in the U.S. to ship medication abortion.