Dr. Ben Behnam, MD — founder of DermCheck Dermatology — is our latest interviewee. He is a board certified dermatologist recognized nationally by Newsweek as one of the top 10 Physicians and Surgeons in the US, with appearances on The Doctors Show, Fox Good Day LA, and ABC News.
After graduating Summa Cum Laude from UCLA, Ben attended UC Irvine School of Medicine where he graduated at the top of his class with an AOA distinction. Dr. Behnam owns and operates a high-end, luxury dermatology practice in Santa Monica, CA. After opening his office in 2009, he soon realized that patients would typically wait weeks to see him. This prompted him to launch DermCheck Dermatology, allowing patients to perform virtual dermatology visits with dermatologists in order to improve access to dermatologists across the country.
Here’s how our interview went…
How would you pitch your company? What’s your elevator pitch?
DermCheck Dermatology allows users to have a virtual consultation with a dermatologist right through their phone, saving them time and money.
What sets you apart from competitors?
Unlike a traditional brick and mortar doctor’s office where you sometimes have to wait for weeks to get an appointment, DermCheck Dermatology is an on demand service built on efficiency and speed. Consultations can be submitted at any time, and no appointments are necessary. Once a consultation is submitted, a detailed treatment plan, counseling, and prescriptions are submitted to your local pharmacy within 24 hours. The process saves hours of time driving to a doctor’s office, filling out paperwork and waiting in the lobby. Not to mention the cost — our app is only $39.95 per consultation, whereas a dermatologist visit costs around $250 and most co-pays are around $40-60.
There are similar mobile platforms available as well. What sets us apart is that we are one of the largest dermatology groups in the country, with more than 20 dermatologists in 11 states. Although we are only active in 3 states, we are slowly rolling out nationwide. Most of our competitors only allow for video conferencing, which requires an appointment to be made. We rely on a store and forward technology, which uses an asynchronous transmission of medical information to be reviewed at a later time by a physician, without the patient being present in real time. This is a big convenience factor for the patient, allowing them to submit a consultation anytime, anywhere.
In addition, some of our competitors do not allow for prescriptions to be sent to your pharmacy. In contrast, we have partnerships with over 90,000 pharmacies in the United States. In fact, to make our process even simpler, we are in contract negotiation with a mail order pharmacy. This way, the patients not only do not have to leave the house to see a dermatologist, but they don’t even have to drive to the pharmacy; the prescriptions are mailed over to them in a few days. Another added bonus is that since we have so many patients that use the system, we can sometimes lower the co-pays of some of the medications to practically zero, saving the patients money on the prescriptions medications as well.
Finally, our competitors are cash only and do not accept any private insurance. We are currently in contract negotiations with insurance carriers in order to have patients use their insurance information when they use our platform. Overall, DermCheck Dermatology is meant to save time and money, connecting patients and doctors on an efficient, easy to use, streamlined platform.
What’s your business model?
We have a direct to consumer business model, where patients are able to use the app without having to go through their insurance and worry about co-pays. Users pay $39.95 for each consultation with the doctor. In addition, we are also in contract negotiations with insurance companies. This will allow the patients to use their insurance to access our dermatology services.
Can you share some numbers? How many users do you have?
Since our launch on July 14th, 2015, we have more than 4,000 registered users on our system, more than 20 dermatologists, and partnerships with over 90,000 pharmacies throughout the US.
Where do you see the company going from here?
We hope to grow significantly in California and reach 30,000 users statewide, and then to launch nationwide by mid-2016. At the moment we are also available in New York and Florida.
Where do you see the mHealth industry going?
I truly believe that in three years many simple diagnosis, like acne, will become health concerns that are treated via mobile medicine. I believe that we will be using mHealth in our day to day lives to handle medical concerns that previously would have taken patients a great deal of time and cost them a great deal of money.
How long are we from seeing modern mHealth technologies going mainstream?
Within the next two to three years I think that we will be accustomed to using mHealth to deal with many medical issues and concerns.