When COVID-19 spread to the United States, the pandemic exposed two conflicting realities: a healthcare system that excels at high-cost, complex treatments while failing to provide sufficient access at the local level.
That lack of access to public health infrastructure might be the country’s biggest challenge. It has also created opportunities for healthcare startups, founders of Carbon Health and Color said Monday during TechCrunch Disrupt 2020, which kicked off today.
“When we think about making healthcare accessible, we tend to focus on the cost of care, which is definitely a big problem,” Othman Laraki, founder and CEO of Color, said during the Disrupt panel “Tech, test and treat: Healthcare startups in the COVID-19 era.” The other big side of making healthcare accessible is actually taking it to people where it’s part of their lives. I think oftentimes for underprivileged communities, etc. that sometimes the cost of care is a lesser problem compared to the access of it.”
Primary care startup Carbon Health and Color are already tackling that issue. And in Carbon Health’s case, the company’s business model to bring high-quality primary care to the local level gave it early insight into the spread of COVID.
Carbon Health has 25 primary care locations today. Co-founder and CEO Eren Bali noted that as early as February, the company started seeing patients coming to its clinics directly from Wuhan, China with COVID-like symptoms.
Carbon Health’s technology platform asks patients questions prior to their visit, which collects important data and assesses patients’ symptoms and problems ahead of time. Those early insights left Carbon Health with two options: shut down and wait for the COVID storm to pass or jump all in. Carbon Health chose the latter, Bali said.
Laraki and Bali’s comments Monday during TechCrunch Disrupt match up with their respective business