The last few weeks have brought explosive growth to a healthcare start-up we first spotlighted just two years ago.
Anytime TeleHealth Inc., the parent of Anytime Pediatrics which we featured in the April 2018 article, was founded in Knoxville by Mick Connors, a Pediatric Emergency Physician, and his wife Angie. They subsequently moved the start-up to Nashville where they were gradually growing the company that connects physicians and patients via telemedicine technology.
“What we built is great solution in these incredibly trying times of a pandemic,” Mick Connors told us in a recent Zoom interview, citing several key attributes of the platform: (1) maintaining the relationship between patients and their physicians; (2) allowing patients to remain at home unless another action is warranted; and (3) fostering collaboration among networks of local or regional providers.
Now, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the biggest barrier to faster growth up to now – the reluctance of physicians to adopt telehealth or embrace minor workarounds – has suddenly changed.
“The last three weeks have pretty much taken care of that challenge,” Connors said. “We’ve added 150 practices and 1,500 physicians in the last week.”
What’s the driver for this change in attitude? The answer is a combination of concern about health and safety, both for patients and practitioners, and revenue stabilization. Telehealth means patients don’t have to come into a doctor’s office, at least initially, unless the telemedicine session says such a visit is necessary.
For both patients and their family members, as well as the physicians, that reduces exposure to COVID-19 and other diseases. There are fewer people in waiting rooms. In addition, as Connors explains, the exposure issue, which is a particular concern for older physicians, is reduced.
On the provider side, practices are seeing a drop in revenue as patients forego routine visits, and telehealth offers a way to complete many of those visits remotely until the country returns to whatever the new normal is.
So, how is Anytime TeleHealth keeping-up with this explosive growth? Connors says the company had secured additional investment recently, but the opportunities he is seeing as he works 18-hour days suggest the need for additional capital.
“We’re sitting on a rocket ship,” he says in describing the past few weeks. The company has quadrupled its employee count although about one-half of the new people are under contract as a precautionary measure. While much of the growth has been on the pediatric front, Connors sees significant interest from practitioners treating adults.
He also cites a recent survey that showed only 10 percent of pediatricians were interested in telehealth before the pandemic. Today, it’s virtually 100 percent, and 90 percent of those who responded said they would maintain telemedicine after the pandemic eases.
Anytime TeleHealth can get a practice operational in two to three days, Connors says. The first step is a one-hour consultation where the discussion focuses on the integration of the technology into the practice – everything from which physicians will participate to how rotation of calls among providers will occur, whether it will be preset hours or on demand, and billing.
After those questions are answered, every employee of the practice is trained. Then, Anytime TeleHealth assists with marketing including engaging patients through social media.
“We’re somewhat blessed to be able to help at this time,” Connors says, adding that he sees Anytime TeleHealth providing a way to return to what he calls “the good old days of healthcare and continuity of care. We are here to help patients and worried parents connect with the physicians they know and trust.”