Doxy.me, a Free Telemedicine Platform, Rides Pandemic Wave and Expands to LatAm

The company has 30% of the U.S. market and hasn’t taken a penny in venture capital money.

Doxy.me allows doctors to offer telemedicine to their patients for free.
By Marcella McCarthy (EN)
December 08, 2021 | 08:00 AM
Reading time: 3 min.

Miami — The pandemic has been awful in many respects, but for health tech, and telemedicine specifically, the constraints and needs generated by the pandemic have helped transform the industry almost overnight. “After all, in a contactless, virus-filled world, what do we need more than telemedicine, remote monitoring, and app-based mental health?” reads StartUp Health’s 2021 mid-year report. A health tech fund and insights company, StartUp Health counts Alphabet, Sequoia and Andreessen Horowitz as some of its co-investors.

Last year, global health innovation brought in $16.7 billion in funding, and this year, by the end of Q3 alone, the industry has raised $30.3 billion, representing an 81% growth rate - and the year isn’t even over.

While funding tells us that the market is hot and that investors and innovators see its potential, it doesn’t equate to a company’s success. And some tech companies, though it’s rare, are able to make a big splash without taking a penny of outside capital. One of those companies is Doxy.me, an American telemedicine platform that holds 30% of the U.S. market share - according to its founder and CEO, Brandon Welch - and which is now expanding to Latin America. The other major player in the U.S. is Zoom Technologies which is used by mammoth health systems such as The Cleveland Clinic.

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“Simple, free and secure,” is the company motto because Doxy.me doesn’t charge doctors or patients anything for the freemium version that is like “Skype, but for doctors,” Welch told Bloomberg Línea in an interview in Miami. You also don’t need an app or to install anything to use Doxy.me. All you need is a link, and it can be used on mobile or desktop. The company does offer an enterprise version which they do charge for, and that allows them to keep the freemium version alive. The enterprise version offers more bells and whistles, but at a price. “Cost should never keep someone from using telemedicine,” said Welch, who seems to be very mission oriented and whose goal is “telemedicine for all,” rather than “buying a yacht and sailing around the world,” which he said he has no interest in.

Brandon Welch, CEO and founder of Doxy.medfd

Welch, who is a biomedical informatics professor at the Medical University of South Carolina, launched the company in 2014 as a side project after completing a Ph.D in biomedical informatics, which he describes as “software for doctors.” Before the pandemic, telemedicine faced road-blocks in the U.S., largely around insurance reimbursement and health policy compliance. But as government officials instructed people to stay home, insurance companies had to adapt to telemedicine - and quickly.

Before Covid, Doxy.me worked with 80,000 physicians, but 2 months in they found themselves working with 700,000. Now, almost 2 years later, they are working with 1.2 million doctors in 176 countries.

As a result, Welch had to drop his teaching schedule and dedicate most of his time to Doxy.me, though he remains on staff at the university.

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While the platform is already used in Latin America, the company has now officially set-up shop in Mexico City where it’s hired a team of 4, and is also planning to expand to Colombia. Brazil is on their road map - and they already have users in the country - but the expansion is a little more complicated since the platform needs to be translated.

In Mexico and Colombia, Doxy.me will be met with existing competition. In Mexico, we have Sofia, backed by Kaszek Ventures, Ribbit Capital, and Index Ventures. And in Colombia - and now in broader LatAm - there’s 1Doc3 backed by MatterScale Ventures and Kayyak Ventures - and while both offer virtual care, neither are focused on free video consultations.

Sofia offers telemedicine and specialist care as well insurance, while 1Doc3 focuses on access to - and for - the masses by also offering care through text and chat -- after all, broadband internet isn’t available to everyone in LatAm.

“I’m on a nice MacBook for this interview, but that’s not the case of most people in LatAm,” said Javier Cardona, co-founder and CEO of 1Doc3, when I interviewed him earlier this year.

But the simplicity of Welch’s product and the fact that it’s free could make a dent in the market. And if it does, he’ll have a lot of the equity, though he said that money wasn’t the goal here. “We don’t really focus on revenue. Revenue is there to support our mission of telemedicine for all,” he said. “I want to make an impact on the world through health-tech, and right now the way I can do that is by being the CEO of Doxy.me,” he added.