Why health and wellness companies—and fitness companies like CrossFit—want in on the virtual primary care boom

The news: Nontraditional entrants are in hot pursuit of the virtual primary care space—here are two announcements unveiling how enticing the telehealth boom is.

  1. Genetic testing company 23andMe inked a $400 million M&A deal with digital health company Lemonaid Health to get access to telemedicine services and prescription drug delivery (powered by TruePill). Their combined capabilities will offer consumers access to genetically-informed primary care.
  2. Fitness company CrossFit is launching a virtual primary care service: Crossfit Precision Care. The model offers subscription-based ($100/month) personalized health offerings via a partnership with Wild Health, which uses genetic insights from a DNA kit to better inform care. Users can also track their own health metrics on the platform.

Why are nontraditional healthcare companies flocking to virtual primary care? The primary care space is evolving and is ripe for disruption—plus, telehealth services are lowering the bar for market entry.

  • Primary care practices buckled under the pressure of the pandemic—and there’s still a massive shortage of primary care physicians.
  • New disruptors are filling the gaps: On top of 23andMe-Lemonaid and Crossfit, startups like Forward Health, Crossover Health, and OneMedical have changed the traditional primary care model into a hybrid virtual-in person one—and have found success in it.
  • Their advantages: Direct-to-consumer subscription options can be cheaper than insurance for many consumers. And using digital platforms can help bridge access to primary care regardless of location.

What’s next? Fitness companies similar to CrossFit, like Peloton or Mindbody (which recently acquired ClassPass), could also make the move to offer digital health offerings to their customers. They can leverage their strong brand power and loyal consumer bases to branch into virtual primary care.

What’s the catch? Consumer trust. If companies are just jumping on a bandwagon to capitalize on a booming market segment, will consumers trust them with their health in the long-term?

Many consumers still don’t trust retail healthcare players yet (and most offer primary care services):

  • 27% of US adults said they don’t really trust retail health clinics, per a May 2021 national poll by Morning Consult.

And healthcare entrants, like tech companies, have caught flak from consumers:

  • 56% of consumers said they don’t trust tech companies with their health information.

Go deeper: Check out our Primary Care Disruptors report to learn more about how the primary care landscape is evolving in the US.