Special to Federal Telemedicine News – Medici Raises $22M for Smartphone App – Direct Link to Patients
Medici supports legislative drive for licensing and reimbursement in TX, FL and federal funding for telemedicine
Authors: Mike Smith & Kevin Scranton
The market for investment in telemedicine applications is heating up. Medici, (https://medici.md) an Austin-based, digital health startup, has raised an additional $22 million in private funding to advance its goal of efficient, accessible healthcare services that can be delivered remotely. Investors include executives from Austin keystone companies Dell and Publix, and from organizations like Starwood and Tesla who believe in the long term value of the personalized telehealth trend.
Medici has created a HIPAA-compliant telemedicine application for doctors and patients that allows them to communicate directly with one another at any time. Company CEO and Founder Clinton Phillips explains that Medici has had good success raising funds thus far by choosing investors with a history of investments in products similar to Medici, and by showing potential investors his passion for the product and knowledge of the telemedicine market.
Influential individuals providing investment include: Natie Kirsh of Jetro; Ken Griffin of Citadel; Barry Sternlicht of Starwood Capital; Howard Jenkins of Publix Super Markets; Amit Bhatia of Swordfish; Brett Moody of Moody National; Antonio Gracias of Tesla; and Austin heavyweight Tom Meredith, formerly of Dell.
The reimbursement trend for doctors providing telemedicine is also positive. Recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has shown greater interest in telemedicine funding which could lead to increased federal support for proven adoption of the Medici App, thus forecasting the likelihood of additional future growth.
The Medici platform allows patients to have secure access to healthcare services with their personal doctors throughout the day and during off-hours when needed. The App has been LegitScript certified as HIPAA-compliant and available for Android, iOS smartphones, and web browser.
Phillips explains that one differentiating aspect that sets Medici apart from other telehealth services is that: “[Medici] is focused on always making sure the platform works for doctors. Most healthcare services focus on insurance, hospitals, and sometimes patients.
“We love our doctors and are determined to make practicing medicine delightful.” Over 2,500 doctors have already saved time and grown their practices (some up to 300% productivity gains) by providing patient consults via the Medici App. Patient adoption has been increasing by 10% every month.
Historically, accessing insurance coverage and doctor reimbursements has been a hindrance to the advancement and success of the nascent telemedicine industry. Until recently, doctors could not realistically offer telemedicine services as reimbursements were simply not available. This obstacle is slowly being removed as specific telehealth services are becoming reimbursable. In an article from mHealth Intelligence, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has taken an important step forward to increase the availability of healthcare while decreasing its cost.
The proposed Telehealth Expansion Benefit Enhancement Waiver would allow for the reimbursement of certain telehealth services, including tele-dermatology and tele-ophthalmology. While these are the only two new services specifically recognized, this movement will likely expand to other healthcare specialties and use cases that will adopt the use of telemedicine in the future.
Medici has been a major advocate for amending these licensure and reimbursement issues, especially in its home state of Texas and in Florida based on doctor requests. Medici expert testimony and public affairs resources, along with the work of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), could likely impact how far these proposed rules will expand within the telemedicine industry while helping to shape standards for doctors who adopt the technology into their practices.
CMS has also proposed the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) that would expand telehealth coverage to more geographic areas. Previously, telemedicine was offered mostly in rural areas where there are notable gaps in access to healthcare. With MSSP in action, telemedicine would be accessible to everyone, irrespective of location. Federal studies show that the so-called “doctor shortage” could be addressed by re-distribution of medical knowledge and care from larger metro areas to suburban populations or rural areas.
Location is a variable that Medici is working on as well. Most of their recent $22 million in funding is being used to further enhance the App to incorporate additional languages to serve multilingual patients in the U.S. or in other countries.
Since Medici is accessible by smartphone, expansion is entirely feasible as additional technology or equipment is not needed to get doctors involved. Deloitte has estimated the average investment in traditional telehealth implementation at over $60,000 including equipment. As CMS and ATA work to open new markets under the telemedicine umbrella, Medici is expanding this personal consumer-driven market by becoming a global service having already penetrated the market in South Africa with strong adoption.
The Medici smartphone App has the potential to revolutionize healthcare. Doctors and patients alike have found it easy to use, and the App has even been compared to the popular messaging platform WhatsApp (though Medici is HIPAA-compliant).
Patients can text, call, and video chat with healthcare providers ranging from primary care physicians, to specialists, and even veterinarians. Medici is directly addressing the problem of healthcare accessibility. By using the additional funding to enhance their App functionality. Medici is also addressing the even greater issue of regional healthcare deficits.
The ATA has been a major industry influencer, providing the necessary background to articulate how important telemedicine will be for the United States. Medici chief evangelist Dr. Thomas Kim has provided testimony in Texas on a Senate Bill for funding telehealth and serves on ATA’s telepsychiatry mental health services committee. Policy work led by Medici, continues to give the ATA fuel to push for more positive rulings from organizations like CMS that will surely lead to legislation that supports future advancements to telemedicine.
Mike Smith is a Washington, DC area writer (@smittypa) whose work appears in Becker’s Hospital Review and other health IT publications. He is a 25-year member of the National Press Club. Kevin Scranton is a pre-med student at University of Maryland majoring in Public Health.
See this story as it originally appeared.