Ex-Apple CEO bets on Web healthcare with MDLive

Ex-Apple CEO bets on Web healthcare with MDLive
Former Apple CEO John Sculley

SAN FRANCISCO - Former Apple Inc chief executive, John Sculley, is betting that people will increasingly turn to the Internet for confidential counseling and routine medical care.

Sculley has an undisclosed stake and sits on the board of directors of Florida-based MDLive, a company that provides patients with remote access to a licensed physician. Sculley said he sees telemedicine and online mental health services"going mainstream" in coming years.

On Tuesday, MDLive acquired Silicon Valley-based startup Breakthrough Behavioral, expanding its portfolio of services to include life-coaching, behavioural health and add a network of mental health professionals. Financial terms were not disclosed.

On MDLive's mobile app and website, patients can consult a doctor for US$49 (S$63.31) per visit. MDLive claims its network of board certified physicians can treat a variety of ailments, such as allergies, infections and sports injuries.

Breakthrough's web service helps patients in 10 states across the United States speak with a mental health professional on a secure video call. It provides an alternative to an in-person visit to the therapist's office.

Sculley, who was also president of PepsiCo, was influential in getting the deal done. In recent years, he has been making strategic investments in a range of health-technology startups, including MDLive and wearables company Misfit.

Telemedicine is increasingly perceived by employers and the government as a means to cut health costs, Sculley said. In addition, states have been requiring that private insurance plans cover telemedicine services.

A recent report from Towers Watson found that telemedicine could deliver more than US$6 billion in annual health care savings to US companies.

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