Why Employers Should Focus on Neurology Care
Most entrepreneurs who create a digital health startup do so because they want to have an impact on one of the most fundamental elements that contribute to a person’s happiness and quality of life: their health. To have a big impact on many people, it’s logical to start with a disease area that is quite common and significantly impacts the daily lives of its patients.
Neurology is now a top-five spend category for self-insured employers, and chronic neurological conditions are both incredibly prevalent and highly debilitating for employees. Neurological conditions, of course, aren’t unique in being prevalent. Chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease similarly affect large swaths of the population, but neurological disorders present a unique opportunity to change the status quo for the better when it comes to care.
Migraine, one of a broad array of neurological disorders, is the third most common disease in the world and affects over 37 million people in the U.S. More than 90 percent of people experiencing migraine say it interferes with their job or other daily activities. It is the second leading cause of global disability, and among women ages 15-49, no other disease is responsible for more years of lost healthy life.
Those numbers don’t even take into account other neurological conditions, like sleep disorders, which affect up to 70 million Americans and neurological pain, affecting 35 million. Other neurological conditions are not as prevalent but can be incredibly costly per patient, such as epilepsy, concussion and multiple sclerosis. Self-insured employers bear the brunt of this spend; it directly impacts their bottom line when it comes to medical claims costs, on top of contributing to lower productivity and employee churn.
Safe to say, the addressable market for neurological conditions is vast, and I founded Neura Health to help as many of these employees as possible get the high quality care they need.
The average wait time for patients in the US to get an appointment with a neurologist is 4-6 months. The 21 thousand neurologists in the US would have to see 10x their current number of patients just to meet the needs of the 145 million Americans who live with a neurological condition. And for patients, only interacting with a doctor once every few months is rarely enough to effectively treat a condition that can so profoundly impact daily life on an ongoing basis.
Telehealth and personalized digital applications are a natural fit to solve these problems. By eliminating the reliance on unnecessary in-person visits, wait times to see a neurologist can be cut dramatically, down to just a few days. Technology can be leveraged to develop and track progress against treatment plans, offer one-on-one health coaching and 24/7 concierge support, and implement tools like a digital symptom tracker. Plus, by relying on telehealth, patients are able to avoid the sounds, lights and smells of a doctor’s waiting room, which can often exacerbate or trigger symptoms.
At Neura Health, we’ve leveraged the opportunity that telehealth presents to improve neurological care, already with great success. We’ve proven that many neurological conditions can be treated effectively via telehealth. Peer-reviewed research published in a neurology journal in 2022 found that after three months of Neura membership, patients experienced a 73 percent median decrease in the number of ER and urgent care visits, a 45 percent increase in level of relief, plus a 13 percent decrease in depression levels as measured by PHQ-9.
The idea for Neura Health came from my own personal struggles getting access to the neurological care I needed after experiencing a trapped nerve. Even with the density of specialists available where I live in New York City, I was put on a six month wait list. I knew that with all the technology available, there had to be a better way. Not only could my patient experience be drastically improved with quick and convenient access to a specialist from my home, but also, I envisioned that the ideal experience for many living with chronic neurological conditions would be more of a continuous model. Unfortunately most neurological conditions are chronic, so patients need so much more than the reactive support they receive in one-off appointments.
Neura Health treats headache & migraine, sleep disorders, neurological pain, epilepsy, concussion and multiple sclerosis. Our solution includes:
- The first national network of tele-neurologists that provides evidence-based care.
- One-on-one video coaching sessions for managing lifestyle modifications and staying on track with a personalized treatment plan.
- A virtual care concierge team to help employees manage administrative tasks like prior authorizations, insurance questions, and more.
- A proprietary digital platform to track symptoms in real-time so they are integrated with the patient’s medical record. Providers proactively reach out to patients when outcomes are trending in the wrong direction.
- The platform also allows patients to track and follow personalized treatment plans and a customized educational curriculum, schedule video appointments with providers, and chat online with a care concierge.
With Neura, we’ve been able to create that better way to treat and manage chronic neurological conditions, and we’re looking forward to helping more patients with a variety of neurological conditions get the timely, quality care they deserve.