We live in a world in which the average wait time to see a primary care doctor is 24 days. Robbie Cape doesn’t want to live in that world anymore. ¶ “The current model is broken,” he says. “Primary care is something that, I believe, every single living individual on this earth deserves.” To reach his goal of making primary care “ridiculously affordable and ubiquitously accessible,” Cape co-founded 98point6, a company that combines cutting-edge technology with high-quality health care. The result is an app that allows people to consult with a doctor via a text-messaging system. The board-certified physicians on the other end provide a diagnosis, send a care plan and, when necessary, order labs and send prescriptions to local pharmacies. The average wait time to connect with a physician? Less than 30 seconds.
“Primary care physicians used to be the quarterbacks of the patient health care system,” Cape says. “They’re who you called for every health question or concern you had. Our grandparents used to look at their family doctor as part of their extended family; that no longer exists today.”
Before 98point6, Cape co-founded Cozi, an app to help families manage the chaos of daily schedules. Prior to that, the Mercer Island resident worked a dozen years at Microsoft, with the bulk of his time spent on Microsoft Money, a software product that helped families manage their finances.
While each role was different, there’s a common thread. “I’ve always found the need to do something that can be both profitable and exciting from a business perspective but also deliver on the objective of tikkun olam,” Cape says.
The idea of revolutionizing primary health care certainly is an appealing business idea. In September 2017, 98point6 announced that it had raised $19.5 million in Series B funding, bringing the total amount raised from private investors to $35 million.
But Cape remains grounded in the public service his app provides. “As many as 28 percent of men and 17 percent of women don’t have a primary care doctor,” Cape explains. “To add insult to injury, nearly half of all millennials don’t have a primary care doctor.” As a result, this demographic tends to wait longer to see the doctor. “When they do go see a doctor, they will see a higher-
cost doctor — at an urgent care or ER — and typically the longer you wait, the more serious the issue has become.”
“As many as 28 percent of men and 17 percent of women don’t have a primary care doctor.”
In redefining the way the primary care system works, 98point6 is trying to eliminate any hurdles that would keep someone from reaching out to a doctor. Beyond just treating the immediate medical issue, the company plans to build ongoing relationships. “Ultimately, 98point6 is delivering on this vision of continuity of care in sickness and in health,” Cape says. “We will use the knowledge we gained about that patient in order to follow up proactively.”
The app is currently available in 10 states, and Cape hopes to cover most of the United States by the end of 2018. While it’s only geared toward those who are 18 or older for now, Cape’s goal is to expand to the pediatric population down the road.
From there, the team is thinking big. “The future means expanding access while improving outcomes all around the world,” he says. “Every country in the world is faced with the same sort of problems that the United States is faced with, maybe for different reasons, but in all cases, a technology-based solution can make primary care more accessible and more affordable.
Robbie Cape, CEO of 98point6, has set out to solve many of the issues that currently plague primary health care. Here’s how:
Convenience: “Part of the reason people don’t go see a doctor is they don’t have time,” Cape says. 98point6 fixes that by making it easy to fit a virtual visit into your schedule. Because the app is based in text messaging, you can access the service anywhere you can use your phone or computer.
Cost: Pricing for the first year is $20 for unlimited access — no matter how many times a patient asks a doctor a question. After that, the annual rate will be $120. “It’s still less than the cost of a single visit to a doctor,” Cape says.
Speed: Given that 98point6’s wait time to interact with a doctor is in the seconds, people can be treated quickly, before health issues escalate. If prescriptions are needed, they’re called in immediately. “People have a doctor in their pocket,” Cape says. “They can hop into the app and they’re immediately conversing with the 98point6 service.”