Expanding healthcare access for all, with Hilary Coles of Hims and Hers
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Expanding healthcare access for all, with Hilary Coles of Hims and Hers

Over the next few months, we will be sharing a series of conversations with founders and technologists at Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal. This is the first in a series of weekly conversations we recorded at the event. To hear, more, subscribe to all those conversations on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotify, or via RSS on your podcast app of choice.

This week, Samsung NEXT’s Tracy Hinds spoke with Hilary Coles, the founder of Hims and Hers, a direct-to-consumer health and wellness company that is focused on eliminating stigmas related to common conditions that impact their daily lives. They discuss how Hims and Hers are building their brands with care and intention, while also expanding their range of health products and availability to consumers.

Empowering consumer control
Hilary’s first challenge in launching Hims two years ago was finding a way to give consumers more control over their healthcare decisions. “When we looked around at what was happening in the world, there are so many great optimizations in everyone’s life except for when it came to healthcare,” she said. “It’s not transparent. I’m not in control. I have no idea what’s happening. And it’s really, really expensive.”

Meeting this challenge meant creating a consumerization approach to healthcare. With patients waiting almost 20 days on average to see their GP and paying more than $100 per visit, Hilary and her team reimagined the healthcare system by providing “access to doctors who are licensed in their state from their phone, and access to reputable information.” Combining effective healthcare products with sound advice and attainable price points paid off — Hims secured $1 million worth of sales in its first week.

Building brand trust
Meanwhile, the company’s companion brand Hers faced a different challenge: gaining trust from its custoemrs. “The space for women was so saturated,” she said. “If I were to open up my phone right now, Instagram would target me with — I don’t even want to know how many wellness products.”

The sheer variety of healthcare-adjacent offerings for women has created a market of critical consumers — “so for women, it was about providing access and building trust.”

To overcome the trust challenge, Hilary relied on expertise, including bringing on “an incredible network of physician advisors.” She also increased access by offering both brand name healthcare products and generics, “which are chemically identical options that are more affordable.” The results speak for themselves: Hers just celebrated its one-year anniversary and the company is now expanding into brick-and-mortar retail.

Narrowing market scope
Startups can’t do everything. For Hilary, this means that “what you don’t do is just as important as what you do.” Given the huge footprint of consumer-driven healthcare, Hilary challenged what mattered most to her bottom line: Existing legislation.

“You’re constantly having to evaluate every state’s operations and views on telemedicine,” she says. “We recently worked with the state of Florida to help them open up some of their top medicine regulations.” Starting with legislation and leveraging medical advisory boards to develop safe protocols and products, Hims and Hers have created a product roadmap “that is never-ending at this point, but we are going to approach it in a very methodical and thoughtful way.”

By narrowing the scope to target the company’s largest roadblock — aging telemedicine laws — she has both expanded operations and empowered the customer journey.


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