Sunday, February 08, 2015

Telehealth provider Helix wants to home in on its audience

Telehealth provider Helix wants to home in on its audience

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Helix founder Les Hedman - JOHN R. BOEHM
JOHN R. BOEHMHelix founder Les Hedman
Helix Health & Wellness
An online medical provider that offers patients video consultations with doctors and cloud-based access to records
THE COMPANY: In his former life, Helix founder Les Hedman was a pharmaceutical sales rep for a medical center that specialized in the controversial science of testosterone replacement therapy. Ultimately, he says he grew uncomfortable with selling pills and hormones to treat diabetes and obesity rather than getting to the root of male patients' behavioral and lifestyle problems.
"I wanted to bridge the communication and engagement gap" between doctors and patients that often led to poorly managed diseases, says Hedman, who believes his two-and-a-half-year-old concierge telemedicine company can do that. Patients can schedule an online videoconference with one of Helix's staff doctors or nurses, plus log into the portal to upload records, test results and prescriptions from various doctors—functionality that allows consumers to more easily manage their care. They can even sync their trackable devices—whether a FitBit or a blood glucose monitor—so that every health-related detail is accessible.
So far, Hedman, 38, and his partner, Lizzie Nolan, 27, have entirely self-funded Helix. They have four physicians groups on board but need customers. "We're both a health care technology company and a health care provider," Hedman says. "It's a little confusing." Up until now, the company has lacked a succinct, down-to-earth elevator pitch. That's because Helix targets a wide range of potential customers, from individuals to large corporations. Each prospective client, be it an aging baby boomer with a heart condition or a corporate HR manager in charge of her company's wellness plan, has different health care concerns.
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THE RECOMMENDATION: The expert panel includes Paulo Oliveira, Caterpillar's global marketing manager. Oliveira, who's based in Chicago, points out that Hedman needs to understand exactly what each customer segment wants in order to better convince them that a Helix membership is worth the $75 per month. The suggestion: that Helix run a customer segmentation study to separate potential patients into buckets, then create a marketing pitch for each.
THE RESULT: "Talking through customer segmentation really got us focused," Hedman says. It helped him zero in on Medicare-aged patients who have multiple issues and may have retired to areas without many doctor options. He also decided to target adults who are taking care of aging family members and need easy access to endless reams of records. To handle corporate customers, Helix is in the process of hiring a sales director to target the top 100 employers in the Chicago area.
"The whole process taught us how to make the (pitch) conversation more individualized, which is ultimately what people want from their health care," Hedman says.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A customer segmentation study should help narrow Helix's target.

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