Announcing Wheel’s Series B to Power the Next Generation of Virtual Care
Imagine being able to pull out your phone and instantly get connected with the best clinician for your health needs. Whether it’s questions about a diabetes treatment plan or help with postpartum depression, the idea of bypassing the avalanche of paperwork, Google searches, and “no available appointments” sounds pretty appealing! If we can order groceries and manage our finances at the tap of a button, why not when we need help with our health?
The idea of not only expanding access to care — but expanding access to the best care — is the foundation for our vision at Wheel. The pandemic has shown that patients are eager to continue seeing the doctor virtually. But the healthcare industry has learned it’s a complicated and expensive feat bringing healthcare visits online. That’s why we’re focused on making it as easy as possible for companies and clinicians to work in virtual care.
Today I’m excited to share that we’ve taken a giant step towards changing the way healthcare works. We’ve raised $50 million in a Series B round led by Lightspeed Ventures. Our existing investors CRV, Silverton Partners, Tusk Venture Partners, and J.P. Morgan also participated in the round. And as lead investor, we’re thrilled to welcome Lightspeed Senior Advisor Dr. Ling Wong to our board of directors.
When we first founded Wheel, we had big ideas and even bigger ambitions about how to revolutionize the way we access healthcare. First, we considered a job board for telemedicine: matching job-seeking clinicians with companies hiring for virtual care. But it didn’t take long to realize that much of the operational and technical infrastructure for virtual care came from the old, broken, slow-moving, in-person model. In other words, it felt like many of the telemedicine incumbents built a shiny, modern house on a crumbling foundation. We took a step back and decided we could do more to help the healthcare industry think outside of the box.
Offering Clinicians A Home Base for Virtual Care
There are major roadblocks to meeting the growing patient demand for virtual care. First, a nationwide shortage of clinicians with an estimated 2.3 million new healthcare workers needed by 2025. Second, the toll and trauma of the pandemic is rapidly shrinking our existing workforce. If you think about how you feel on your worst day at work — tired, stressed, overwhelmed — that’s how many healthcare workers feel every day. Nearly half of clinicians felt burned out before the pandemic and now one-in-five are thinking about quitting medicine.
Unfortunately, we can’t magically create millions of new healthcare workers overnight. Nor can we erase the toll and trauma of treating patients on the frontlines of the pandemic. So we’re focusing on what we do best: helping clinicians fall back in love with practicing medicine. We’re establishing a new way to work where they have the autonomy and freedom to be their own boss. Where we let technology do the heavy lifting, so they can spend more of their time with patients and less time with paperwork. And where all clinicians have the opportunity to provide for their family while also having the flexibility to spend time with their family.
We can only expect doctors and nurses to take great care of us if we’re also taking care of them. At Wheel we do this by offering clinicians one place to manage their virtual care practice. This means access to a wide variety of highly-vetted work opportunities, technology built with the clinician experience front and center, a single platform to manage their credentialing and schedule, and the training needed to deliver high quality virtual care. We’re proud to share that we expanded our clinician network by 450 percent last year, largely driven by organic growth and word of mouth.
Democratizing Innovation to Change the Way Healthcare Works
We fundamentally believe the healthcare industry needs more players in the game if we’re going to successfully take on the status quo in healthcare. Yet even the most talented and well-resourced companies have stumbled along the way. Tech is challenging and expensive to build, regulations are complicated and prohibitive, and clinicians are scarce and burned out.
That’s why we’re set on democratizing innovation and removing the barriers that often get in the way of driving change in healthcare. We pour all our resources into building the underlying infrastructure for virtual care, making it as simple as possible for companies to build virtual care services under their own brand. And our focus on clinicians — and what they need to deliver great care — provides our clients with the freedom and flexibility to invest in the patient experience.
That’s why we’re often described as the virtual care industry’s secret weapon. While we purposefully don’t name our clients, we now work with a wide variety of partners, such as:
- A meditation app that connects users with therapists for ongoing care when they need help managing anxiety.
- A direct-to-consumer telemedicine service focused on providing Queer-competent care to LGBTQIA+ patients,
- A large brick-and-mortar clinic expanding their national footprint by investing in longitudinal virtual primary care.
- And a publicly-traded digital health company that’s expanded into several new services fully powered by Wheel since the start of the pandemic.
In partnership with Lightspeed, we’re more excited than ever to fast-forward our growth and connect millions of patients with the best clinician for their care needs. We’ll continue investing in our technology, making it easier than ever to innovate in virtual care. And we’ll expand and diversify our clinician networks, which are already powering some of the most innovative healthcare brands. And of course, we’ll continue growing our team, which has already quadrupled over the last year! If you’re interested in joining an ambitious team tackling the most challenging problems in digital health, we’d love to hear from you.
Building Wheel has been the most incredible journey. What started out as a seed of an idea to improve a healthcare system failing clinicians and patients has grown into a full-fledged business. Since we were founded in 2018, we’ve evolved into a $66 million venture-backed marketplace working with the most innovative and forward-thinking organizations in digital health. We’ve delivered nearly half a million patient visits across the country so far, and we’re just getting started.