Confidential & Judgement - Free Healthcare
“I always ask myself not how it’s done, but how can we make it better?” Says Tristan Schukraft, President & CEO of MISTR. MISTR is a telemedicine platform that offers discrete access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). PrEP is a once-daily pill regimen that prevents HIV. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate 1.2 million Americans are at substantial risk for HIV and should be taking PrEP to prevent HIV infection. Sadly, due to the lack of knowledgeable doctors, costly labs, confusing paperwork and sometimes judgment, more than 80% of the vulnerable individuals are not taking advantage of PrEP. Schukraft, a forward-thinking leader, wished to change that and introduced MISTR, a confidential, judgment-free platform. Now, for every 13 new people on PrEP, one HIV infection is prevented.
No Needles & No Paperwork
MISTR clients utilize a mobile enabled website where they answer a series of health related questions, upload insurance information (if available) and request an at-home testing kit or in-person lab appointment. They can consult with a doctor via phone, video, and/or online chat. With MISTR, there’s no waiting in doctors’ offices, no needles, and no paperwork. MISTR can determine if an individual is a right candidate for PrEP, and if needed, makes PrEP affordable, if not completely free for qualified candidates. MISTR initially focused on providing PrEP to gay men, but now it also has a female-focused brand, SISTR, both of which will soon be available in Spanish and offer trans-gender specific solutions.
AI in Telemedicine
“It took a long time to build the platform, and of course there were many who didn’t see the potential of telemedicine, but with COVID all that changed”, says Schukraft. The MISTR team is constantly striving to optimize the platform, from increasing conversions and eliminating bottlenecks, to reducing costs. Schukraft decided to use AI to help achieve this. “AI is definitely something we continuously build upon,” says Schukraft. From the beginning, MISTR offered at-home testing, because convenience was crucial to increasing access and adherence to PrEP. Schukraft didn’t want to hamper that flexibility, so by introducing AI, clients could get most of their questions answered in real-time, even in the middle of the night. Since some prefer to communicate via Instagram and others via text, MISTR also takes an omnichannel approach to the customer experience.
Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained
“People are so worried about failing, they often miss out on opportunities,” says Schukraft. It’s ok to fail, he adds. Schukraft spent a year researching before launching MISTR. He did not give up despite uncertainties in the future of HIV prevention and the adoption of telemedicine. “There are never 100% for sure opportunities, so you must do your best to take calculated risks,” he says. If we wait for the perfect conditions to set sail, we may never leave the shore, he states. Initially, MISTR accepted insurance for the online doctor consultation and required labs, but clients faced huge deductibles. It was cheaper for clients to pay cash and not utilize their insurance, and many were uninsured or underinsured, so Schukraft changed course. He decided to partner with health departments and other community organizations to make the service completely free in 12 states. Through this MISTR has also eliminated the endless processes required by some insurance companies to get the cost of your PrEP covered. None of this was in the business plan, but Schukraft’s quick thinking made MISTR adapt to a new plan and it has experienced a stunning growth of 50% month over month.
Nimbleness is Key
Schukraft’s philosophy is that if we can put a man on the moon, we can figure anything out. MISTR is a reflection of this belief. He asserts that nimbleness is key to any company’s success. If you’ve discovered a better way, or you’re on the wrong path, stop and redirect your course immediately. His advice to upcoming entrepreneurs is “Don’t automate the same process, create a new better, streamlined one.” He stresses the importance of understanding what works on paper doesn’t always work in the real world. It’s this ingenuity and ability to be nimble that has helped MISTR increase access and adherence to PrEP, and with each new person on PrEP the world gets one step closer to zero new HIV infections.