A big employee benefits consulting firm and a digital and mobile healthcare technology startup have big mobile plans in mind to help serve Hispanic consumers in the United States.

Mercer LLC, a business unit of risk, insurance and professional services firm Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc., and ConsejoSano, a digital health platform developer, have launched a mobile telehealth initiative aimed at Hispanics.

Under the terms of the agreement, Mercer will market ConsejoSano’s subscription-based telehealth platform to its base of U.S. employers with Hispanic employees and also market to the approximately 54 million U.S. Hispanic healthcare users, including 22 million working adults.

Mercer and ConsejoSano say the initiative fills a key niche with U.S. Hispanic healthcare users because its telehealth services are offered through native Spanish-speaking providers who understand the Hispanic culture. “Many other services only offer translation services where Spanish is a second language and employee assistance programs may provide only limited support on a narrower range of issues and not offer a translation service,” says ConsejoSano CEO Abner Mason.

Unlike other U.S. digital and mobile telehealth companies such as MDLive.com, DoctorOnDemand.com, Sherpaa.com and AmericanWell.com, ConsejoSano providers don’t have the ability to write digital prescriptions or make referrals to other U.S. providers. That’s because ConsejoSano’s affiliated providers are part of Salud Interactiva S.A. de C.V, a medical services and telehealth company based in Mexico City. As such, they are not licensed to write prescriptions in the U.S.

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Salud providers instead offer medical advice on topics such as general health, mental health, nutrition and chronic disease management. Because ConsejoSano’s providers and contact center are based in Mexico and the company does not provide services such as doctor referrals or writing prescriptions, ConsejoSano does not need to be directly regulated by U.S. government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration. Salud Interactiva S.A. de C.V is regulated by the Mexican federal government.

For its mobile telehealth service Mercer and ConsejoSano are targeting companies with Hispanic employees in states with large concentrations of residents of Latin American origin, including Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas. Fees vary, but basic pricing is a 12-month subscription fee that can range up to $10 per month for employees with up to five family members and $5 per month for individuals. “70% of Spanish speakers currently report seeking alternative health solutions because existing health plans don’t serve their needs,” says Mason.

ConsejoSano’s mobile telehealth service is also offered though Apple iOS and Android apps and includes unlimited access to features in the apps including health and wellness videos and guides. ConsejoSano develops, monitors and installs the mobile telehealth platform that links employers and employees to Salud Interactiva’s provider contact center. The telehealth service takes on average between 30 and 60 days for an employer to implement, Mason says.

Under the terms of the agreement Mercer will market the service to its 28,000 client companies. Mercer will receive an undisclosed percentage of each employer deal. ConsejoSano will handle employer registration, communications, billing, reporting and related administrative, technical and customer service installation and support.

Mercer and ConsejoSano see a big emerging Spanish-speaking mobile healthcare market that is currently underserved, says Mercer Health Innovation Labs leader David Kaplan. “Many Spanish-speakers (in the U.S.) disengage from the healthcare system altogether because of language and cultural barriers, lack of insurance coverage, or a lack of knowledge about how the U.S. healthcare system works,” Kaplan says. Mercer Health Innovation Labs is a Mercer business unit that works with healthcare, employee benefits and related technology and service companies to develop new business services, Mercer says.

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Hispanic consumers make up 17% of the U.S. population, but only 4% of U.S. doctors are Hispanic, ConsejoSano says. 92% of U.S. Hispanics own a mobile phone, and by 2060 the number of Hispanics living in the U.S. could double to 119 million and represent 35% of the U.S. population, say Mercer and CondejoSano. “As the diverse health needs of the U.S. population grow, so does the need for doctors who can understand and empathize with the language and cultural context of their patients,” Kaplan says.

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