Telemedicine technology has been developing for some time, but the Covid-19 pandemic has brought a sense of urgency as patients with chronic conditions—people who need a lot of medical attention—try to stay away from hospitals and doctors' offices.
Against this backdrop, Reliq Health Technologies Inc. (RHT:TSX.V; RQHTF:OTCQB), which has devised mobile health and telemedicine solutions for community-based healthcare, has been actively signing contracts with healthcare organizations.
"What we've found since the pandemic is that we're attracting much larger clients; clients with 50,000, 100,000, 200,000 patients are coming to us," Reliq CEO Dr. Lisa Crossley told Streetwise Reports. "There's a real sense of urgency among those larger clients because people recognize that when there's the inevitable second wave of Covid-19 in the fall and winter, the only way that healthcare organizations are going to manage is if their high-risk patient population—chronic disease patients—are being cared for virtually, so at home with remote patient monitoring and chronic care management and telemedicine."
"There hasn't always been a huge appetite for embracing virtual care. The pandemic has accelerated the acceptance of virtual care by at least a decade. And for us, that's a huge positive because it really opens up the pool of potential clients by orders of magnitude," Dr. Crossley explained. "While the pandemic initially delayed onboarding for patients in the hardest hit areas (Florida and South Texas), our onboarding is accelerating again now, particularly in regions such as Ohio, Oregon, Washington State and Puerto Rico."
The company recently signed its largest contract ever, with digiiMED, to cover an estimated 200,000 patients, to provide its iUGO Care platform to digiiMED's Medicare and private insurance patients in Puerto Rico.
"Half of all adults in Puerto Rico have at least one chronic condition, over 42% percent of the population have hypertension and over 16% suffer from diabetes," Dr. Crossley said. "In the midst of a global pandemic that is overwhelming healthcare systems in states like Texas and Florida, it is vital that areas like Puerto Rico protect their high risk chronic disease populations through virtual care programs like iUGO Care's Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM), Chronic Care Management (CCM), Behavioral Health Integration (BHI) and Principal Care Management (PCM)."
Jose Alvarez, CEO of digiiMED and Surgical Solutions Puerto Rico, noted, "Through our existing contracts with healthcare providers on the island, we have access to over 200,000 chronic disease patients who will benefit greatly from Reliq's iUGO. We selected Reliq as our technology partner and iUGO Care as the software platform for our clients after an extensive review of all commercially available digital health solutions. Reliq's iUGO Care platform has the most comprehensive capabilities of any virtual care software solution, but is also intuitive and easy to use for both clinicians and patients."
Alvarez relayed that "Reliq's highly qualified, experienced clinical team was able to help us develop a customized care management program that will meet the specific needs of our client populations. Having access to Reliq's existing Spanish-speaking Care Management and Implementation teams in Texas and Florida will enable digiiMED to onboard physicians and patients immediately while we expand our own customer support team in Puerto Rico."
Healthcare organizations contract with digiiMED to supply technology solutions that meet their specific needs. digiiMED will contract with individual physician practices, physician groups, hospitals, home health agencies, assisted living facilities, private health plans and government agencies using their existing network of healthcare providers to provide their services. "digiiMED clients were asking for remote patient monitoring and chronic care management solutions and digiiMED selected Reliq as their technology partner and iUGO Care as the software platform for their clients after an extensive review of all commercially available digital health solutions," Dr. Crossley explained.
Dr. Crossley noted that the company's expectation is "within 18-24 months, the patient population through digiiMED will be 200,000 or more at an average billing of about US$40 per patient per month."
Having 200,000 patients billed at US$40 per month would generate US$8 million in revenue per month to Reliq.
Dr. Crossley reiterated that the iUGO comprehensive system gives the company an edge. "Clinicians, hospital administrators, IT teams, they don't want to support different software platforms to do what they need to do. They really want an all-in-one comprehensive platform, so that they don't have to learn different technologies and interfaces, and manage the different usernames and passwords and permissioning around using multiple systems. The fact that we have something that we've specifically designed to be holistic and very comprehensive, but also very intuitive, easy to use and cost effective, is a huge differentiator for us."
Reliq's iUGO Care platform "allows complex patients to receive high quality care at home, improving health outcomes, enhancing quality of life for patients and families and reducing the cost of care delivery." It provides "real-time access to remote patient monitoring data, allowing for timely interventions by the care team to prevent costly hospital readmissions and ER visits," the company stated.
"We target the chronic disease patients," Dr. Crossley said. "When their health is unstable, when they're not getting that continuous community care that we offer, they tend to be very heavy users of the acute healthcare system. In the event of rising Covid case numbers, the system can't cope with the chronic disease population on top of Covid patients. Beyond that, chronic disease patients are at great risk if they do contract Covid because they could have the most significant complications. Chronic disease patients are the most likely to end up in the ICU and for a long period of time. Caring for these patients virtually in their homes reduces their risk of exposure to the virus, and better managing their chronic conditions makes them less likely to experience severe complications if they do catch COVID-19."
Dr. Crossley noted that Reliq offers a significant advantage "in that we have always targeted traditionally underserved communities, lower income or rural and remote areas where there's limited infrastructure. We can work in communities where there's no conventional internet access, we can collect patient data over the cellular network. We can do that even in Northern Ontario, working with a lot of the reserves. Typically there is some cellular service, but it's often not consistent, yet we can collect data, even if we only get a few seconds of connection a day. We're a very capable partner with a very robust platform that's very flexible and works in a lot of different kinds of contexts, and that was really important for Puerto Rico in particular."
At the end of July, Reliq announced a new contract with Diversified Healthcare Partners to provide its iUGO platform to more than 50,000 eligible Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance patients in Ohio, Oregon and Washington State.
"Diversified Healthcare Partners is an innovative healthcare organization that provides remote patient monitoring, chronic care management, telemedicine and behavioral health monitoring to physician offices, home health agencies, independent living communities, assisted living communities, managed care organizations and accountable care organizations," David Carter, CEO of Diversified Healthcare Partners, stated. "We chose Reliq's iUGO Care as the technology platform we will use with our clients because it is by far the most comprehensive offering in the telehealth space."
"We have been impressed with not only the ease of use of the iUGO Care platform and its ability to serve the needs of the entire telehealth spectrum, but also with the Reliq team's deep knowledge of this market, clinical expertise and technical capabilities," Keith Laxton, president and COO of Diversified Healthcare Partners, said. "Working with such a capable partner makes the process of implementing a comprehensive telehealth solution for our clients far easier than we ever expected. We will be able to onboard our first patients within weeks."
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