The Scoop: Visits to the doctor’s office can be a hassle no matter where you live or how wonderful your health care provider. It’s bad enough when you’re sick, but when you just need to renew your prescription, waiting seems pointless. That’s why Simple Health offers ways to renew birth control and vision prescriptions and buy contact lenses online. Its products can be delivered to your home — at lower prices than those charged by the pharmacy — saving you time and money and making health care more accessible.
The average American sits in the waiting room at a doctor’s office for more than 18 minutes each visit. Add that to the time it takes to schedule an appointment, get to the office, and meet with a doctor, and the entire process becomes quite time-consuming.
If you only need to renew a prescription, all of that effort can feel like a real waste of time.
Those who don’t have time to get a new prescription — especially for contact lenses or birth control — aren’t alone. One in 5 patients switches doctors because of long wait times. Scheduling appointments is often a barrier to health care services for busy young parents and working women.
Helping people live better lives while not wasting time on prescription renewals was the inspiration behind Simple Health. The company gives busy people an alternative to sitting in a waiting room just to renew a prescription for their regular contact lenses, birth control, and other prescription medicines.
“We can reduce physical barriers to health care, which can mean not having to go to a doctor’s office. It’s also more affordable,” said Bharat Ayyar, General Manager at Simple Contacts, a subsidiary of Simple Health. “Cost can be a significant barrier to access for people who don’t have health insurance. So we started with contact lenses and branched out to birth control — and soon it will be other things.”
Simple Health can eliminate time commitments and prescription renewal hassles by automating the process and having items shipped directly to a customer’s door. That process also cuts out the expenses for unnecessary medical visits, which can add up to plenty of savings each year.
The Founders Have Tools to Save Time & Reduce Stress
The idea behind Simple Health arose from the frustration Founder and CEO Joel Wishkovsky experienced of having to visit his doctor’s office repeatedly to refill his prescription — which cost him time and money. That added stress both to his finances and to his schedule, and made it harder for Joel to focus on getting better.
“He realized that many things in the health care system need a doctor’s attention. But then there are routine checkups, or a patient needs to ask a quick question and not have to schedule a full visit and have a copay,” Bharat said. “That was the inspiration for Simple Health.”
Joel and his Co-Founder, Ryan Quigley, created Simple Health to eliminate some of those barriers to health care. They particularly focused on pain points, including having to see a doctor to get a prescription for contact lenses or birth control. The founders have staffed Simple Health with a diverse team that ranks high in customer satisfaction.
The company’s health solutions benefit people of all socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds, so the Simple Health team is equally diverse to reflect the needs of users. The staff is also more than 50% female, which, according to Bharat, is unusual for a tech startup.
Simple Health also takes a novel approach in hiring by employing many actors on its customer service team.
“We found out that is a cool niche of people who are empathetic, listen well, and can handle the needs of our customers,” Bharat said. “It’s also a job that fits into their schedules. They live in New York and pursue acting gigs during the day, and then work in customer service here. We have ranked as one of the top customer service centers in the industry for a long time, and that comes from some of our recruiting.”
The first group the company set out to help were those who wear contact lenses. Prescriptions for contacts only last a year, but for 80% of people, their lens prescriptions typically don’t change in that time.
“It’s relatively stable, but you have to keep going to the doctor year after year,” Bharat said. “If you don’t have vision insurance, it can be $150, $200 a visit to get a prescription for something you’re already wearing. Plus, contact lenses are expensive, and doctors can be the ones selling them to you.”
Offering Easy Online Birth Control Prescription Renewal
In 2019, Simple Health started offering birth control to bring convenience to even more people. Birth control is another prescription renewal that rarely changes, making it easy to fill online. That gives women a stress-free experience, even if they’ve waited until the last minute.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly two-thirds of women in the U.S. ages 15 to 49 use some form of contraception. That number jumps to 99% for those who are sexually active. That means millions of prescriptions each year that need to be renewed.
“With birth control, staying regular with doses is of the utmost importance. That translates to not leaving gaps when you don’t have a prescription,” Bharat said. “You’re covered.”
Sometimes a woman gets a prescription for a birth control product that isn’t quite right for her. When that happens, Simple Health can help them avoid a return trip to the doctor.
“You don’t always get birth control right the first time. You may react poorly to a certain pill and need to try a different medication,” Bharat said. “We can help you find the right choice, and it’s just a matter of a few text messages.”
Simple Health: Growing From a Need for Contact Delivery
Simple Health grew from a desire to find a simpler way for people who wear contacts to refill their lens prescriptions. Joel started by finding the top ophthalmologists in the country and designing a process that would allow them to review prescriptions at home — through the Simple Contacts website.
If someone doesn’t have a fresh pair of contact lenses, they may try to see just how long they can get away with wearing an old pair. However, that makes them more prone to dry eyes and even infections. It can become a bad habit to use contact lenses longer than suggested.
“We don’t do first-time fittings for contact lenses. We still believe there is a place for seeing a doctor in person. However, if you have contact lenses that you love, and your prescription has expired but not changed, then you can visit Simple Contacts,” Bharat said.
Users complete a retina check and a vision test to ensure that their current prescription allows them to see with 20/20 vision. Then an in-state doctor reviews a video of the test, along with the other health information provided, and decides to renew the prescription or refer the person for an in-person visit. If everything remains the same, a user can place an order and have competitively priced contacts delivered to their door.
Now Simple Health is looking to expand its prescription refill service beyond contact lenses and birth control to eliminate inconveniences and extra costs for patients with other needs.
“We want to expand into new areas including asthma, hypertension, skincare, and eye care,” Bharat said. “There are a lot of exciting avenues.”