Pandemic-led changes in behaviour towards digital health has helped launch one company’s fresh approach to everyday healthcare. The founders of VIGO Health spotted a gap when it came to accessing appointments and diagnostic services with the likes of GPs, consultants, dentists and opticians.
VIGO Health connects its users with traditional medical providers delivered through one digital channel. It also utilises already familiar platforms as a means to connect patients with health professionals and therapists through its on-demand virtual Nurse Chat and 24/7 Message a Doctor services.
“We were the first to bring Whatsapp a doctor 24 hours a day to the Irish market and you get a response in minutes,” says cofounder and CEO Ruth Bailey. “Our approach is all about everyday healthcare needs and giving fast and convenient access. We use technology to make managing your health more convenient and more affordable.”
Though it operates on a digital-first mentality, what’s unique about VIGO is that it also offers complementary real-life healthcare options from just €40 per adult per month. “We’re huge believers in the digital world but we live in the real world,” says Bailey, a health industry professional, financial advisor and certified insurance practitioner with a proven background in start-ups.
“What technology can do is so exciting but we don’t live in a metaverse. What’s unique about our proposition is the combination of digital health services plus in-person options that co-exist and work together. As brilliant as technology is, sometimes you do need a face-to-face service so we are pleased we can offer our customers exactly what they need when they need it whether this is online or face-to-face.”
VIGO Health launched in June 2021, though its co-founders Ruth Bailey and Stephen Loughman, had initially began work on the project in 2019. “We were six months into research, trying to understand the customer journey when Covid hit and then those needs changed and pivoted quite quickly,” Bailey says.
“The pandemic itself not only changed consumer and patient behaviour and attitudes towards accessing digital health but it also changed their needs. We evolved during the pandemic in real time as things were changing around us. On the other side of that, people’s expectations have never been greater.”
VIGO Health operates around a monthly set fee subscription plan, something Bailey says has peaked interest not just among younger adults who typically shy away from traditional health insurance, but also among corporate employers.
“We developed VIGO Health based on patient need but employers who don’t offer health insurance, particularly coming out of the pandemic, are now much more aware of their desire or responsibility to offer a health-related employee benefit. We have created a market that didn’t exist – we’re not quite health insurance but we’re not a pure pay digital provider either.”
With speed and flexibility at its heart, VIGO Health also offers access to mental health services for both virtual and faceto- face sessions. “This is something that’s becoming increasingly important,” says Bailey. “People often feel something is not bad enough to go to a GP or A&E but they will send a Whatsapp to a doctor, nurse or mental health professional. It’s about encouraging people to be proactive and catching things early. You don’t need to suffer in silence or turn to Dr Google.”
For more information visit vigohealth.ie