Startup company Runway focuses on traveler health concerns: Travel Weekly

During his time as a travel advisor, Joshua Rome realized there was a gap in the industry: Clients often asked what medications they needed for their trips, or what kind of health concerns they should keep top of mind. He would encourage them to talk to their doctor or visit a travel clinic.

The issue was that many of those clients, like himself, didn’t have a primary care physician. And even if they did, they were still often referred to travel clinics, which Rome described as “notoriously costly, highly fragmented and, I would say, just not the most positive consumer experience in today’s day and age.”

Thus, Runway was born. 

Joshua Rome

Launched in May, Runway connects travelers with physicians via telehealth appointments before a trip. The doctors dispense solutions before travel for five travel-related ailments: traveler’s diarrhea, motion sickness, altitude sickness, malaria prevention and trouble sleeping. 

Travelers can continue to chat with the physician during or after travel about symptoms or care. 

A consultation costs $30 and medication prices range from $20 to $125, depending on what the traveler wants. Consumers visit to fill out a detailed questionnaire developed by physicians that is reviewed by a doctor. If the traveler is a candidate for medication, it is prescribed and shipped to their home.

Runway is also developing a series of country-specific travel health guides.

Rome, Runway’s founder and CEO, is emphatic about working with travel advisors and suppliers. The company has a commission program in place for both individual agents and larger companies like tour operators; commissions start at $20 per referral.

“We really feel we’re a solution that’s been built for the industry, by the industry, and we very much want to put suppliers [and advisors] on a pedestal and really elevate their capabilities,” Rome said.

He is also interested in partnering with insurance companies. 

Rome’s career path uniquely suited him to start Runway. He started in tech with a position at Adobe, then in 2013 joined his family’s startup, Patagonia Pharmaceuticals, focused on developing drugs to treat rare skin diseases.

In 2019, after Patagonia’s products were acquired by a dermatology company, Rome started a daily newsletter focused on one of his passions: travel. He grew the newsletter to a few thousand subscribers and leveraged its base to start his own travel agency affiliated with Protravel International (he is still an affiliate but is focused on Runway).

Rome is working on expanding Runway’s portfolio of prescription medications its doctors will provide to travelers and building more travel health guides (by the end of July, there will be 50 country-specific guides available). 

And the nascent company already has an offshoot: In the coming weeks, it will launch Runway Plus, a standalone product providing individuals access to a physician for any travel health-related questions.

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