Women's health startup Nurx brings on executives from Walmart and 23andMe

Former Walmart and 23andMe executives have jumped over to women's health startup Nurx to help expand the company's telehealth and pharmacy services. 

Nurx seeks to make birth control more accessible and affordable by shipping it directly to consumers. The San Francisco-based telehealth company also focuses on what it calls "sensitive health services," such as providing STI testing, HIV prevention with PrEP, at-home HPV screening and now treatment for headaches and migraines.

The company bills itself as the largest female-focused telehealth player, having provided over 1 million virtual consultations since it launched in 2015. Nurx now serves 325,000 patients on a monthly basis, according to CEO Varsha Rao.

Shaun Young, a pharmacist by training, joined Nurx to serve as senior vice president of operations. He led healthcare innovation and consumer healthcare at Walmart and Cardinal Health and most recently was head of pharmacy benefits at Bind, a UnitedHealthcare-backed health insurance startup.

"I've focused my entire career on ensuring patients have access to the healthcare and medications they need. Nurx is transforming what access means by bringing healthcare providers and prescription medications directly to you, wherever you are," Young told Fierce Healthcare.

Young brings deep pharmacy expertise and payer experience. He will focus on driving the scale and expansion of the Nurx-owned pharmacy network and will work closely with health plans, Rao told Fierce Healthcare.

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Nurx patients already can get their medications covered by insurance, and the company plans to work with health plans to allow patients to also have their telehealth consultations covered by insurance. 

The company is one of the few direct-to-consumer digital health companies that accepts insurance, Rao said.

As Nurx's new vice president of product, Lilia Martinez-Coburn is focused on bringing new telehealth services to the company's patient base. Previously, she led the consumer experience product team at 23andMe, and she was president of MedHelp, an online and mobile health community and Merck subsidiary.

Most recently, she served as chief product officer at Fuzzy Pet Health, a telehealth direct-to-consumer veterinary platform. 

Martinez-Coburn brings a track record of identifying and solving complex problems through data-driven, user-centric software products, according to Rao.

While acting as a health advocate for someone who was battling cancer this year, Martinez-Coburn said she witnessed firsthand that women are still underserved when it comes to access to preventive health as well as health innovation. That experience motivated her to join Nurx, she said.

"Given [Young and Martinez-Coburn's] extensive experience across digital, brick-and-mortar care, and payer systems, their unique perspectives are what will continue to drive us forward in providing quality care to more patients across more services," Rao said

The COVID-19 pandemic has driven increased demand for Nurx's services, leading to a 75% increase in new patient requests for birth control and twice as many requests for STI home testing and treatment as well as PrEP for HIV prevention.

RELATED: Nurx raises another $22M with plans to be profitable by early 2021

"We started off this year with a real focus on being a true healthcare company. Then COVID hit, and we saw incredible demand for our services as it patients found it incredibly hard to get access to providers and were seeking out telehealth providers. We scaled up the organization to meet that demand," Rao said.

Looking to capitalize on the growth it has seen during the health crisis, Nurx raised an additional $22.5 million in May for its series C round. The company used the funds to double its staff of medical providers and hire more engineers and operational staff.

The five-year-old company has raised $113 million to date and expects to reach profitability by early 2021, Rao said.

Direct-to-consumer digital health is a growing market including companies such as Hims & Hers that focus on both men's and women's health. Nurx competitor Ro recently landed $200 million in funding.

Investors poured $544 million into women's health companies in the third quarter of 2020, a 139% increase quarter over quarter, according to CB Insights.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth was a second or third choice for receiving care and has now become the first choice, according to Rao.

"We as leaders in the telehealth space really need to continue to anticipate patients' needs from a telehealth perspective and raise the bar. That’s why we are investing in the technology and platform side across the board to advance the evolution of telehealth," she said