Fast-growing health care startup Heal hires its first agency of record
Like many health care-focused brands, Heal, a startup known for telehealth and doctor house calls, has seen its business grow during the pandemic. Now, it’s ramping up its marketing investment as a result by hiring an agency of record, Heal’s first since it was founded six years ago.
The Santa Monica, California-based startup named The Woo, an independent creative agency in Culver City, California, as its AOR. The appointment comes on the heels of a $100 million investment from health insurance company Humana over the summer.
“We’re ready to grow and accelerate, and take this message out to people,” says Nick Desai, CEO and co-founder of Heal, which also counts Lionel Ritchie and Jeb Bush as investors. “We didn’t want a one-and-done campaign, we wanted a partner.”
Before coronavirus, Heal was making a name for itself as an alternative option for consumers who were concerned about going to traditional doctors’ offices for a variety of reasons—getting sick from others who are sick, or not having time to wait, for example. Under the company’s model, which includes insurance acceptance, consumers can either see a doctor virtually or schedule a home visit from a physician within a day or so. Revenue grew 382% between 2018 and 2019, according to a spokeswoman.
But interest has skyrocketed in recent months, with many doctors’ offices closed for non-emergencies and consumers clamoring for alternative models. Desai says Heal has seen an increase in both telehealth and house calls and that the daily average of patients Heal treats has doubled since COVID-19 began. The business model is more relevant now as consumers turn to other online delivery platforms, Desai says.
“If food is going to come to my house, and books are coming to my house, and a TV is going to come to my house—why can’t the doctor come to my house?” he asks, noting the convenience.
However, experts say that execution of such medical services is critical. “To me, telehealth and home visits are not business ideas—they are concepts related to how health could be delivered,” says Lydia Green, a former pharmaceutical copywriter and founder of RxBalance, a nonprofit that addresses misinformation in medicine. Green notes that the traditions of hospitals and doctor’s offices have been changing over time as consumers can now get a flu shot at the drugstore or schedule a doctor’s visit over video. She adds that such flexibility could be integrated into a health system however, and not exclusive to brands like a Heal.
Heal certainly isn’t alone in its creative care delivery. ZOOM+Care, an on-demand health care company with around 60 locations, was founded 14 years ago. Torben Nielsen, CEO of ZOOM+Care, says the brand has seen a “surge in interest from consumers” in recent months and that’s resulted in an expansion in telehealth offerings. In addition, the company is increasing its attention to brand awareness. It recently hired its first chief marketing officer, Beth Gumm, who had been with housewares brand Sur La Table.
The Woo did some project work for Heal earlier this year, and participated in a review that lasted about four months, Desai says. New work will include a newsletter-type ad, called “The Good News,” that will get mailed to seniors, with content on why flu vaccines are important and games like crosswords and Sudoku. Heal just debuted a pediatric-centric campaign in California as well.