Wheel teams up with GoodRx to integrate medication pricing information into its virtual care platform

Telehealth staffing and tech services startup Wheel is teaming up with drug discount app GoodRx to integrate real-time pricing and discounts on medication at the point of care.

Austin, Texas-based Wheel provides the platform infrastructure and staffing healthcare companies use for their virtual care operations. 

One-third of U.S. residents have trouble paying their medical bills and turn to their physicians for help navigating the costs and insurance coverage. However, a recent survey from JAMA Network shows that few physicians are able to accurately estimate out-of-pocket costs, making it difficult for them to have informed conversations with their patients at the point of care.

"Clinicians today are left in the dark about whether their patients can follow their treatment plans, and even more so in virtual care. We just brought that broken system online with telehealth 1.0." Wheel co-founder and CEO Michelle Davey told Fierce Healthcare. "We should ensure when we are delivering care to patients that they can stick and adhere to that care, otherwise we’re just creating more of a broken value chain over time."

She added, "By integrating the GoodRx API into our platform, it broadens the reach of a much larger patient base than if one provider client was building their own platform in-house."

GoodRx’s coupon price API processes more than 200 billion pricing data points every day to provide consumers with access to lower prices on their medication. Through this integration, once a clinician prescribes a treatment plan, companies built on Wheel’s white-labeled virtual care platform will be able to seamlessly offer their patients a GoodRx coupon for their medication at their preferred pharmacy.

RELATED: Telehealth staffing and tech services startup Wheel banks $50M to power virtual care

Wheel offers a scalable platform that enables any company to stand up virtual care services. The startup also developed a nationwide clinician network to match providers with patients in real time.

The promise of telehealth is expanding access to care, Davey told Fierce Healthcare. "It's about connecting patients to the right care for them when they need it most," she said.

Expanding access to care extends to socioeconomic access, she said. "How do we make it easy and reduce the barriers for patients to really drive down that cost of care? And that’s why we partnered with GoodRx. We're looking at how we can continue to solve the challenge of bringing down the cost of care, and this partnership is a step to do that," she said.

She added, "Our goal is to provide companies with all the tools they need to build a great virtual care service for their patients."

The integration with GoodRx's technology will help providers and their patients access discounts on medications at more than 70,000 pharmacies nationwide, which will help patients follow treatment plans and save on medication, according to company executives.

Reaching patients at the point of care is crucial to ensuring they will be able to afford the medications they are prescribed.

"We know that clinicians are an incredibly important part of patients being adherent to their medication. That’s the person they listen to and trust. And patients ask their doctor, 'Where can I fill this? How can I save money?' It may not be the clinicians' job, but that’s the role they serve," John Asalone, senior vice president of growth at GoodRx, told Fierce Healthcare.

RELATED: GoodRx launches health information site with the aim of being a go-to medical resource

"Many clinicians have many browsers up, they have their EMR (electronic medical record) and they have GoodRx and we want to make it easier for clinicians to treat their patients by providing access to clear, transparent and simple pricing. That makes it easier for the doctor to make sure the patient gets the mediation they need and that they can afford it," he said.

Patients are driving a new shift in healthcare, with expectations for greater access to personalized, convenient services and pricing information. 

"With that trend, the industry has to adapt and be wherever consumers are going to be too. There is a bi-directional change that is happening right now, supported by technology, and at GoodRx we are going to adapt and adjust to that," Asalone said. "GoodRx is fundamentally a marketplace and we are going to be wherever consumers are looking for ways to get care affordably."

GoodRx has been expanding into health content to provide answers to the most Googled questions about personal health. The company launched GoodRx Health as an online health resource that provides research-based, accessible health information on common health topics like diabetes and heart disease, according to GoodRx executives.

GoodRx and Wheel executives sees this partnership as the first step in a large collaboration to develop more enhanced virtual care offerings.

"I think we can even work on consumer education modules around this," Asalone said. "Clinicians are on the front lines of this and if we can do a better job of making their life easier, through technology and price transparency, and by making one clinciians' life easier, you can impact thousands of patients."