Software company using Fitbit is betting on the future of telemedicine

Telemedicine is a fast-growing part of the healthcare business, and a new startup is trying to get a piece of it.

By some estimates, as many as 158 million video consultations will be conducted by the year 2020, and the market size will be a $34 billion market. Fruit Street, founded a little more than a year ago, just raised $4 million from more than 60 physicians in hopes of getting a sliver of the telemedicine market.

The software, which integrates with Fitbit (FIT), allows patients to do HIPAA-compliant video consultations with health care professionals and monitor such things as diet and lifestyle. Patients first have to see their doctors before joining Fruit Street.

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“We license the software on a monthly basis,” explained founder and CEO Laurence Girard. “It’s a ‘software as a service’ [SaaS] business model. The physicians will pay, depending on how many patients they have, around $200 per month for the software. They would turn around and charge their patients cash for video consultation, or in many cases, get reimbursed by insurance.”

Girard anticipates that about 20,000 to 30,000 professionals will use the software in the next five years, and he expects the company to have $36 million in revenues by then. Fruit Street sees insurance reimbursements as part of the product's appeal to the health care industry.

“Twenty-six states have parity laws requiring private insurance companies to reimburse,” he said. “Part of this is teaching physicians how to get paid for it and implement it in their practice.”

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