GoodRx is a healthcare platform that compares prices on thousands of medications by enabling consumers to get access to discounts. GoodRx makes money either through a fixed fee or commission as consumers complete the prescription transaction to the parter’s website or location. By 2019, GoodRx generated over $388 million, primarily through prescription transactions.
- Origin story
- Mission, vision, and principles
- Value proposition, key customers: the GoodRx three-sided marketplace
- How the GoodRx business model and platform work
- Technological model
- Revenue model
- Cost structure
- Distribution, Sales and Marketing models
- Direct to Consumer Marketing
- Examples of marketing funnels and key entry points for GoodRx distribution
- Key takeaways
As Doug Hirsch recounts in the S-1 letter to shareholders, as he was still a kid, he got a piece of advice from his parents, that instead of focusing on finding a good job and salary, to focusing on finding good health insurance.
This sort of advice would be strange, if it wasn’t for the fact that is an all American story.
The complexity, opacity, and expansiveness of the healthcare system only became much more vivid as the GoodRx co-founders grew up. Doug Hirsch recounts of a specific experience back in 2010, when with prescription in hand and good health coverage, he still could not find a uniform and affordable prescription.
As he walked across several pharmacies, he realized that the healthcare market was just like any other industry. Prices would change slightly from one place to the other, with the difference though that the system’s complexity and opacity stood on the shoulders of American people who could not afford that.
From there, GoodRx was created. Whether or not the story is apocryphal, this is the story of a company that managed in a few years to become a leading platform that connects several key players in the healthcare space, offering a single, simplified interface to consumers.
While this might seem just a digital platform, in reality, the final interface (shown primarily as a price comparison tool) underlies key partnerships in the healthcare space, from healthcare providers to healthcare professionals and consumers. From this balance, this business model exists.
Mission, vision, and principles
GoodRx mission is to “help Americans get the healthcare they need at a price they can afford.”
This mission has been executed by the company’s digital platform, which goals is “to solve the challenges that consumers face in understanding, accessing, and affording healthcare.“
From its beginnings as a price comparison tool for prescriptions, the platform expanded to offer several services (from prescriptions to Telehealth, and additional healthcare services).
GoodRx claimed guiding principle is that “of doing well for consumers and the healthcare industry as a whole.”
In its S-1 GoodRx estimates its total addressable market (TAM), in around $800 billion ($524 billion for prescription opportunity, $30 billion in pharmaceutical manufacturer solutions and $250 billion for telehealth).
It’s important to remark that the TAM is a highly speculative number, based on estimates and assumptions of how the market will evolve in the coming years. The TAM is a way for companies to show their potential opportunity in the future.
The assumption of this opportunity is based on GoodRx’s firm belief that consumers (thanks also to the web) have become more informed, and cost-conscious. That is why the market entry strategy that GoodRx used was thorough its price comparison tool. This was the entry point that enabled the company to grow and expand to several other areas and services (the latest move was in 2019 when GoodRx acquired HeyDoctor, the platform that would enable the company to further expand in the telehealth industry).
To understand GoodRx’s opportunity, it’s also important to start from the problems it solves and for whom they get solved.
Value proposition, key customers: the GoodRx three-sided marketplace
The American healthcare system is among the most complex ones, and many US citizens feel the pressure of having a good health insurance coverage if they want to guarantee a good lifestyle for themselves and their family in the long run. Indeed, for one thing, there is a trade off caused by the US healthcare system.
The health-related expenses not only are a continuous worry for most people in the US (unless of course, you have good coverage), many more ignore it altogether as they can’t afford to have it. The complex, expensive, and opaque nature of the healthcare American system has opened up massive opportunities for digital platforms.
As a consumer-facing platform, GoodRx has not only to provide a good service to a large number of potential patients, but it has also to attract healthcare professionals and companies to be present on the platform. This creates a three-sided marketplace with three core players/partners/stakeholders:
- Consumers: they get easy access to the platform to find simpler and more affordable healthcare solutions. In addition, through the telehealth platform, people can access treatments that otherwise they wouldn’t have due to long wait times for in-person visits.
- Healthcare professionals: motivated by the ability to help more patients, to get more exposure for their profession, and perhaps (especially during the COVID pandemic) to offer their diagnosis remotely, they join the GoodRx platforms (HeyDoctor is the telehealth platform).
- And healthcare companies: they can get more exposure on a platform that counts millions of consumers, to offer more affordable solutions.
By balancing out the value propositions for these three players the marketplace tries to build a win-win-win experience for all.
How the GoodRx business model and platform work
GoodRx’s product/service/platform is divided into four main parts:
- Prescription Offering.
- Subscription Offerings.
- Pharmaceutical Manufacturer Solutions Offering.
- Telehealth Offerings.
Let’s dive into each part of the platform to understand its business model.
This is where it all started. GoodRx entered the market as a price comparison tool for prescriptions. Over the years, the company developed a proprietary technology, which as of 2020 aggregates over 150 billion prescription data points from many sources.
This data gets curated and presented back to consumers in the form of services on the platform, accessible on its mobile app, or website for free.
This is the GoodRx’s pricing comparison workflow:
- The consumer uses a GoodRx code to purchase a prescription.
- The code gets recorded in the parter’s pharmacy database so that the consumer can purchase subsequently without showing the code again.
- The consumer saves money as a result of the partnership between GoodRx and the pharmacy.
- GoodRx makes money for the initial purchase and those afterward, via the GoodRx code (it earns a % on the sale of the prescription or a fixed fee).
- The consumer on the GoodRx platform is incentivized to repeat purchases, as more discounted are presented and both the pharmacy and GoodRx make money as a result of that.
Where does GoodRx collect that data for its platform? Primarily through pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), other sources include Pharmacies, Mail Order Pharmacies, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Patient Assistance Programs, and Medicare.
By 2017, GoodRx launched its first subscription service, called Gold, and by 2018, it also launched Kroger Savings:
- GoodRx Gold is simply a saving program with a monthly fee of $5.99 for individuals or $9.99 for families (up to five), which gives subscribers access to even lower prices for pharmacies participating in the GoodRx program.
- Kroger Rx Savings Club powered by GoodRx: which is the fruit of the partnership between GoodRx and Kroger that for an annual fee of $36 for individuals or $72 for families (up to six) gives access to lower prescription prices at Kroger pharmacies.
Pharmaceutical Manufacturer Solutions
- Co-pay cards,
- Patient assistance programs,
- And other savings options.
GoodRx partners up with pharmaceutical manufacturers to advertise their solutions on the platform, while offering discounts to consumers which are eligible to those.
Telehealth has been among the fastest-growing industries in the healthcare space. Indeed, GoodRx launched in 2019, its Telehealth platform, HeyDoctor, coupled with the GoodRx Telehealth Marketplace, the aim is to attract third-party providers and expand the services offered on the platform.
GoodRx through HeyDoctor and its marketplace has both in-house healthcare providers and third-party providers. This offering well integrates with the prescription services. As consumers browse and find a healthcare professional on the platform, together with the diagnosis also a prescription might be matched:
Each tech company has a model that it follows which is built-in into its technology and that also comprises the philosophy of the organization. As a discovery, comparison platform whose goal is to enable variety, information and lower prices on medications, GoodRx follows these “technological principles:”
- Proprietary Pricing Engine that links with multiple sources spanning the healthcare industry, which also collects and normalizes prices from multiple PBMs, it refines them, and it offers as a single user interface. This technological element is the key to GoodRx business model, as it is a consumer-facing interface, which needs to reduce complexity.
- Constant Data Refresh: GoodRx employs predictive models and software programs to adjust the data on the platform in real-time to enable a continuous stream of discounts and offers on the platform.
- Living Database: GoodRx remarks that its database is “living” as its dynamic, and it gets updated and refined continuously. This is another central element to a platform where it’s all about price, variety, and simplicity.
- Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning: GoodRx integrates algorithms that will learn from the prescribing habits of consumers. For instance, GoodRx’s engine might automatically show the dose of a given medication based on specific parameters.
- Scalability: GoodRx leverages the cloud infrastructure of third-party services like Amazon AWS and Google Cloud Platform to enable its performance as it scales.
By June 2020, GoodRx had over 4.4 million monthly active consumers, 15 million monthly visitors, with the GoodRx app among the most downloaded medical apps.
But how does GoodRx make money?
Prescription revenues (fixed and % based)
Most of the revenues (94% in 2019) come from prescriptions. In short, as consumers on the platform receive discounts, they get a code generated by GoodRx, this code identifies the consumers, which ones finalized the initial purchase and the subsequent ones it generates a commission on the sale for GoodRx.
For any platform, the key success element is to master the repeat transaction. And for GoodRx over 80% of transactions came from repeat prescriptions. The nature of this kind of transaction, where the consumer will either refill the existing prescription or fill a new prescription, makes the earnings of GoodRx stable and growing over time.
Indeed, once the code has been generated for the consumer, as more orders are placed those are traced back to the code, and the commission or fixed fee is paid back to the platform.
To gain some context, fixed fee arrangements generated 15% of GoodRx revenues in 2018, and 7% in 2019, and 2020.
Other revenue streams
Other revenues come from subscription offerings (Gold and Kroger Savings), pharmaceutical manufacturers/affiliates (advertising revenues), and Telehealth offerings. All in the US.
- As a quick note for the advertising revenues. Advertisers (primarily pharmaceutical manufacturers) may purchase advertisements for a fixed fee or on a performance-basis. This advertisement will appear on the company’s website or app. In addition, GoodRx also serves advertisements through the company’s direct mailers. To gain some context, in 2020, a good chunk of the growth in other revenues (from $8.9 million to over $24 million in the first six months of 2019, vs. 2020) was driven by pharmaceutical manufacturers advertising on the platform (a $5.3 million increase).
We’ll look at three key items that make up the cost structure of GoodRx, from the cost of revenues, or what it takes to deliver the service in the first place, to product development (R&D) and sales, marketing and distribution:
- Cost of revenue: those costs primarily relate to outsourced consumer support, healthcare provider costs for HeyDoctor, personnel costs for consumer support employees, hosting, and cloud costs. Those costs usually grow in proportion with the platform usage.
- Product development and technology: it comprises product development activities, third-party services, and contractors related to product development, information technology, and software-related costs. Therefore, the headcount growth related to engineering for the platform’s continuous development is the main expense.
- Sales and marketing: those comprise mainly the advertising and marketing expenses for consumer acquisition and retention. We’ll see more in detail how the distribution, sales, and marketing models work.
Distribution, Sales and Marketing models
GoodRx uses both paid, organic and viral marketing channels to reach consumers.
Organic channels comprise the traffic generated on the GoodRx website and apps. While viral growth comes from word-of-mouth coming from consumers referring friends and family, healthcare professionals and pharmacists, and press coverage which drives traffic back to the website and apps.
Direct to Consumer Marketing
Direct to consumers channels comprise:
TV: GoodRx advertises on both traditional linear television as well as through digital streaming.
Paid Search: GoodRx buys advertising primarily through Google and Bing.
- GoodRx provides in-office materials to healthcare professionals so that those professionals can amplify the brand and services available on the platform. In addition, GoodRx built an app (GoodRx Pro) for healthcare professionals to facilitate electronic prescriptions.
- GoodRx also partners up with electronic health record providers (EHRs). Those are key withing the GoodRx workflow, as they are records of patients which comprise medical history, diagnoses, medications, treatment plans, and much more. By integrating pricing from GoodRx to the EHRs prescribing workflows healthcare professionals can provide prices from GoodRx straight at the point of prescription.
- Affiliates: other partnerships like the one with the exclusive provider of prescription pricing to the American Automobile Association membership base are also part of the mix.
Content Development and Marketing
Examples of marketing funnels and key entry points for GoodRx distribution
Below a few examples of how consumers get to know the GoodRx platform:
- Word of Mouth: consumers’ referral is among the most important acquisiton channels for GoodRx. Consumers might invite other family members and friends, attracted by discounts on prescriptions.
- Physician: in this workflow, once the consumer gets checked by the physician, if the physician determines that a medication is needed, it will check the pricing for the patient in the records (EHR) where GoodRx integrates its pricing. By finding more reasonable prices for the patient, that is how the connection is created. The patient will have the GoodRx code, which will be used to purchase also subsequent medications.
- HeyDoctor Telehealth Consultation: once a consumer completes the consultation through the HeyDoctor platform if needed, lab tests can be booked through one of the partners of the platform, and a prescription, completed through the GoodRx platform.
- GoodRx Marketing: GoodRx online ad, TV commercial visits the app or the website to complete the transaction and save money on prescriptions. Over several refills, GoodRx will prompt consumers to subscribe to one of the platform’s plans.
- GoodRx is a digital platform focused on offering price comparisons, and discounts for prescriptions. It also offers Telehealth consultations.
- GoodRx partners up with physicians and healthcare companies to integrate its pricing. Once consumers can find GoodRx’s pricing comparisons, it gets easier for the platform to have them become loyal and repeat customers. Most of GoodRx’s revenues come from prescriptions’ transactions.
- GoodRx also offers subscription plans (Gold and Kroger) which have become an essential part of the GoodRx offerings as they unlock additional savings and facilitate repeat transactions.
- GoodRx also monetizes through advertising on the platform primarily driven by pharmaceutical manufacturers placements or performance-based campaigns.
- Some of the key channels that drive GoodRx growth are word-of-mouth, partnerships, paid, and direct advertising.
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