A leader in virtual healthcare, Firefly Health is partnering with virtual-care specialist Oshi Health in a union of platforms that serves as a significant bellwether for virtual healthcare systems in general. No longer just a novelty add-on to a traditional healthcare system, telemedicine is increasingly an integral part of today’s healthcare landscape and the joining of these two forces stands as a testament to that fact. 

Economics plays a big part, as the United States has infamously high healthcare costs and few public options compared to other developed nations. Firefly’s credo of “half-priced healthcare that’s twice as good” addresses a pressing need. The zero-co-pay services in Firefly’s employer plan include: same-day video visits, unlimited chats with care teams, prescription refills, guidance from specialists, and more. 

As a virtual first-care provider, Firefly serves as an onboarding system for in-person care; patients can make initial video appointments with primary care doctors, who can then make referrals. Through the virtual visits, doctors can also fill prescriptions, and advise on everything from disease-prevention plans to the management of chronic diseases. Firefly also offers a range of services for mental health. What Firefly lacked, however, was gastrointestinal (GI) expertise. Instead of spending considerable time and resources to expand their in-house services to include digestive care, Firefly took the faster route of partnering with a niche provider for their employer plan.

Oshi Health brings gastrointestinal experience to the table, using a “virtual-first clinic” approach to diagnose and care for GI issues. It’s a significant contribution, as one in five working-age people in the United States suffer from digestive health issues. The collective cost of caring for GI issues is higher than that of heart disease. Through Oshi, members of the Firefly network have access to GI healthcare providers, health coaches, dietitians, and psychologists, plus tools including a symptom tracker and instant messaging through the Oshi Health app.

Why is this a big deal? Small to mid-sized companies often can’t afford to join the conventional health insurance marketplace in America. They turn to virtual care as an affordable option, but that care thus far has had considerable limitations. With virtual healthcare companies expanding to include specialty care, those limitations are reduced and help to make healthcare more equitable overall.