Wheel partners with Talkspace, Cost Plus Drugs and Health Gorilla to build out virtual care network

Austin, Texas-based Wheel continues to build out its health tech partnerships to integrate more virtual care capabilities into its platform. The company has added three big healthcare players—Talkspace, Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company and Health Gorilla—to its virtual care network.

With these additions, Wheel customers can easily connect patients with mental health services via Talkspace or provide home delivery pharmacy options to patients via Cost Plus Drugs. The integration with Health Gorilla enables seamless lab and diagnostic services, according to executives.

All three companies will be available to Wheel customers this year, with capabilities for referral and program integrations.

Launched in 2018, Wheel has grown rapidly by powering the infrastructure behind virtual care. The company's tech helps companies scale up telehealth services—and do it in weeks rather than 15 months. Wheel’s virtual care platform includes configurable virtual care programs and a nationwide clinician network, providing organizations with the resources and services to deliver virtual care. 

The company says it has delivered care to more than 4.5 million people through its white-labeled services.

"At Wheel, we understand that the future of healthcare lies in collaboration, innovation, and unwavering dedication to seamless patient access to care. By bringing on Talkspace, Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company, and Health Gorilla into our continuously expanding ecosystem, we're cultivating a partnership network of excellence that empowers patients and providers alike," Michelle Davey, CEO of Wheel, told Fierce Healthcare.

"These partnerships epitomize our commitment to offering patients a spectrum of choices, ensuring they receive the care they need, when and where they need it most. For our customers, these collaborations also serve as a catalyst for virtual healthcare providers to thrive in an increasingly digital landscape. By integrating best-in-class technologies and solutions into our platform, we're arming providers with the tools they need to deliver superior care experiences, streamline operations, and drive better outcomes," Davey said.

The three companies join an existing ecosystem of companies, including Candid Health, that will continue to expand over time.

Health Gorilla’s lab network, available through a simple-to-implement API or iFrame, provides access to more than 6,200 patient service centers and is made up of health system reference labs, regional labs, specialty labs and national vendors including Labcorp, Quest Diagnostics and BioReference. With more than 90% of the U.S. population within 20 miles of a service center, providers can select a location that's convenient to the patient and receive all results in a structured format, according to the company.

"Lab and imaging workflows are critical for clinicians using virtual care technologies, and we’re excited to help incorporate these into the Wheel platform," said Steve Yaskin, co-founder and CEO of Health Gorilla. "With Wheel and Health Gorilla, patients and their care teams can seamlessly leverage all diagnostic results for fast and effective virtual care."

Last fall, Wheel rolled out an enhanced platform for payers, retailers and pharmaceutical companies, building on its $20 million acquisition of GoodRx's back-end virtual care technology and adding on new features and capabilities. 

Davey said back in September that the next generation of Wheel's virtual care solution supports configurable care programs for customers combined with a nationwide clinician network. Wheel has built out a library of care programs across urgent care, primary care, convenience care and condition management that organizations can use to customize their telehealth services.

The company has raised $216 million to date, backed by investors such as Lightspeed Venture Partners, Tiger Global, Coatue and Salesforce Ventures. It's now one of several third-party providers, including SteadyMD, Curai Health and Hello Alpha, offering virtual care through Amazon Clinic. The tech giant announced in August a nationwide expansion of its telehealth services.

Consumers continue to value convenience factors in deciding whether to see a healthcare provider virtually versus in person, and many are even willing to pay more to do so, Wheel data shows.

Nine in 10 people who have used virtual care in the last year plan to continue doing so, a survey of 2,000 adults found. And many consumers believe virtual care can help address pain points in the traditional healthcare system—67% believe virtual care can improve limited access to care, and 66% said it can help reduce high costs. More than half also reported that virtual care has motivated them to seek preventive care.

Convenience is key with consumers—in that same survey, 71% said virtual care saved them time and allowed them to see a clinician outside of normal in-person office hours and 32% said the access that virtual care provides is a big influence as there were no healthcare providers or appointments available in their area

About 60% of consumers said they were willing to pay extra for a virtual primary care visit over an in-person appointment, with nearly half (46%) open to paying $20 or more extra for virtual care, according to the results of an independent Wheel-commissioned study.

"With over one million patient visits last year and increasing demand, we’ve recognized the need for deeper ecosystem integrations. This ensures our existing and future collaborators can access a diverse network to deliver unparalleled care to their patients—while putting an end to the dizzying maze created by disconnected point solutions that leave patients behind and unnecessarily drive up costs,” Davey said.