By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
Anytime Pediatrics is one of 16 finalists, equally distributed across four different categories, in the first annual Bear Institute’s “Pediatric Accelerator Challenge for Kids” (PACK) that concludes with a virtual competition scheduled for today.
The company that was founded in Knoxville before relocating to Nashville is a finalist in the “Telehealth Innovation Track.” That is one of four categories in the competition designed for top pediatric healthcare start-ups and college student teams. The others are “Patient Education Innovation,” “Rare Disease Innovation,” and “Remote Patient Innovation Monitoring.”
The Bear Institute is a pediatric technology partnership between Washington, DC-based Children’s National Hospital and Cerner Corporation, a provider of health electronic medical records, that is dedicated to using health information technology to improve the quality and safety of care for children.
Prior to today’s finals, the Bear Institute gave pediatric healthcare providers and administrators access to participating start-ups’ pitch decks and solution overview videos so they could review the information and vote for one start-up in each of the four innovation tracks. The top four in each category made the finals.
Ironically, we contacted Anytime Co-Founder Mick Connors recently to see what the status of telehealth was, particularly in the pediatric space, as COVID-19 was declining until recently. “We’re seeing a little bit of everything,” he told us.
Regular readers of teknovation.biz will recall that we have posted several articles in the past 18 months as interest in telehealth, both from providers and their patients, accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic. Those articles included several updates from Connors such as this one posted in early April when he reported that the start-up had added 150 practices and 1,500 physicians in the previous week.
In late July just before COVID cases began spiking again, he said pediatric hospitals were filling-up with young children suffering from RSV, officially known as respiratory syncytial virus. It’s a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms but can be serious for some.
Connors described the situation with many Pediatricians as “COVID whiplash. The doctors are in a reactive mode, and they are experiencing Zoom fatigue. Everyone was doing virtual care, but now it seems to be shifting back to in-person. It’s a rollercoaster, and we don’t know where it is going to settle-out.”
For Anytime Pediatrics, that uncertainty poses a challenge.
On the positive side, Connors says the company saw a “meteoric rise” in its clients during the height of the pandemic in late 2020 and early 2021 and, on a positive note, saw a 95 percent renewal rate.
“We have some practices still doing 20 to 30 percent of their visits by telehealth,” he says, but adds, “Others are doing fewer. They (the doctors) all know patients want the telehealth option.”
Yet, as Connors positions the company for a capital raise to further grow, he acknowledges that it is a tough time.
“Investors like to see slow and steady growth,” he says. While there is a level of short-term uncertainty, Connors is confident that “digital health is the future of medicine. There’s nothing but upside to where virtual and digital health go.”
That said, he also raises an issue that we had not considered in terms of telehealth. It’s the digital divide that has been highlighted in the last year in the K-12 education space. Just like for those who don’t have access to robust networking at home, Connors says simply about access to telehealth, “The divide is growing.”