Edgardo Mercadante, founder of MediTelecare tells us about remote patient care or telehealth.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Edgardo Mercadante: Thank you for asking. We are doing fine, a bit weary from lockdowns but as a healthcare worker I recently received the 2nd dose of the Moderna vaccine so hopefully, we can see some light at the end of the tunnel soon.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded MediTelecare.
Edgardo Mercadante: I am approaching 40 years in the healthcare industry, with experience starting and growing healthcare companies. I am a licensed pharmacist and have started or purchased 10+ healthcare platform companies. Almost all of the companies were based on innovative delivery processes or enhanced by technology or special scientific services/developments. For example, I founded one of the first online pharmacies in America in 1999. I have always prided myself on trying to figure out how technology and new scientific developments can change existing healthcare paradigms. MediTelecare was founded in January 2018 and financed through me and one lead institutional investor.
MediTelecare specializes in delivering tele-behavioral health to the Long-Term Care (LTC) market including Skilled Nursing, Assisted and independent living facilities, and their residents/patients. We estimate that we have grown to be the largest and fastest-growing company delivering technology-enabled healthcare services to the largely elderly behavioral care residents/patients in the LTC market. We have relationships with many chains of LTC facilities, have expanded, and are set up as a technology-enabled medical provider in 21 states (adding 1-2 states per month). We have several thousands of resident-patients under contract and on caseload. We have our own W-2 employed network of care professionals (MDs, NPs, PhDs) who use our proprietary telehealth digital hub technologies/tools to conduct tele-visit/care services within these facilities 24×7 daily. We have installed equipment, software, care coordinators and trained all clients to use our App-based and browser-based technologies to care for these resident-patients. We estimate to be conducting more behavioral care visits to this sector than any other telehealth company in the U.S. We publish and report our clinical analytic outcomes quarterly to all our clients and payers (we are delegated credentialed/contracted with all national payers including CMS and state Medicaid’s).
I previously served as CEO/Chairman of MedOptions from 2013-2017, having built the Behavioral Health company to be the nation’s largest servicing over 1700 LTC facilities in 12 states. I recapped and sold the company to Summit Capital Partners in 2015 and remained there until mid-2017. Subsequently, I purchased the telehealth concept that I had incubated there and formed MediTelecare in January of 2018. The pandemic has further fueled demand and fortified our leadership position within this market segment.
How does MediTelecare innovate?
Edgardo Mercadante: We have created 3 distinct areas of innovation:
- Clinical Standards– We hire highly motivated clinical practitioners with advanced training and experience in behavioral health. We have our own intensive training program, designed for clinicians to gain knowledge in the use of “Evidence-Based” protocols of care, which we then ask them to treat and deliver care to their patients via a standardized interdisciplinary and collaborative format (measurable Standard Operating Protocols or “SOPs”). Thus, the patient benefits from a team working together to provide thorough “outcomes” based results via these SOPs. This reduces care costs overall, avoids further hospitalizations or negative effects, and hopefully improves their quality of life. We empirically measure clinicians’ care in following the SOP’s and then objectively can judge care by leading care indicators that we can publish to help new clinicians adapt and learn why and if our SOPs are important.
- Digital Diagnostic and Assessment tools– we have developed proprietary digital tools (i.e., “MediReview”) that help our clinicians assess mental cognition, behavioral risk profile and provide a better care plan for the patient. The digital tools are available to our clinicians through our Digital Hub and form the basis of how we deliver telehealthcare to our patients. Furthermore, monthly re-assess all our patients via a process called behavioral health integration (BHI), which profiles the patient care against and with other chronic comorbidities the patient may have like diabetes or COPD. This BHI digital tool enables our care team to get an overall “patient vision” of care which we believe leads to better outcomes.
- Digital Tele-technologies: Proprietary Synchronous-real-time/virtual Televideo software and equipment within a suite of digital tools allows our clinicians and client nursing staff to provide highly accessible care within long-term facilities like nursing homes that have been dramatically affected by Covid-19. These technologies are specially designed to visualize primarily older adults who are much more vulnerable and need more care than younger populations. These digital tools are built and delivered in the browser-based website and App-based mobile technologies across almost any device. We innovate and enable the most appropriate devices depending on the typical care population in these long-term care settings.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Edgardo Mercadante: Covid-19 has focused and enhanced the need for telehealth technology to provide greater access to care for vulnerable patient populations. We have benefited from a fueled expansion of this need but are working within an extremely difficult paradigm of patients who are very sick normally and unfortunately more affected by Covid-19 in nursing facilities. Fortunately, we are a virtual company anyway, so we were able to maintain many of our employees working from home, our collaborative tele-technology tools have helped us keep a solid focus on our vision.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Edgardo Mercadante: I believe the strongest lesson learned from this pandemic within the healthcare space is the importance of disruptive technologies which will help consumers and healthcare organizations access providers more readily. I think we are on the verge of a mobile health and tele-technology explosion that will change how we access and receive healthcare in the future.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and your company in the future?
Edgardo Mercadante: I am blessed to have a very supportive family, two of my adult children work very closely with me in our family businesses and the third is here in CT in a successful career so my wife and I are lucky everyone is healthy and together. Our company is perfectly positioned to grow in the new technology-enabled health paradigm. We are very excited about our future.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Edgardo Mercadante: Many companies have jumped into telemedicine and telehealth mostly directed to consumers and non-age specific. We are very focused on older adults who are in the institutional post-acute settings and need advanced behavioral care that we deliver. Of course, traditional medical providers are somewhat competitors but many actually want to work with us and join the tele-technology evolution in healthcare
Edgardo Mercadante: Thank you for your time and to learn more about us, visit MediTelecare. We are very excited about our future and how we can help improve healthcare delivery through telehealth and digital tools working closely with world-class clinicians.
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