Dr. Henry Legere, Founder, and CEO, Reliant Immune Diagnostics
It’s March 28, 2020; the dreadful moment finally arrived. The U.S. became the first country to exceed 100,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus pandemic. As of this writing, according to worldometer, the number of deaths due to coronavirus in the country has surpassed 2,000. As the nation became the epicenter of a pandemic, telehealth services are being met with a flood of patients. Telemedicine and telehealth service providers are striving to meet the demands of the broader healthcare system, resulting in a spike in the utilization of telemedicine apps.
While telemedicine is finally becoming mainstream in the U.S., this transition is easier said than done. As it turns out, the unprecedented surge in patients has weighed down the telehealth services providers due to the lack of technical infrastructure and the supply of physicians prepared to deliver care virtually.
"No insurance necessary, no appointment needed, and no hidden fees. It is a complete medical visit that takes place through an app on one’s phone. It is a simple, one-stop-shop that people can afford"
Against this challenging backdrop, if there is one company that foresaw this evolution of telehealth services—or lack thereof—it is Reliant Immune Diagnostics. The Austin, Texas-based telemedicine company is a mile ahead of other telehealth services providers, empowering patients, and care providers alike with its telemedicine platform, MDBox.
In essence, the MDBox app has been specifically designed to allow patients to video chat with a healthcare provider on their phone from the comfort of their home if they start feeling sick. While telemedicine has emerged as an effective alternative to help manage patients during the current coronavirus outbreak, MDBox is transpiring multiple benefits besides just helping healthcare professionals to treat patients through a smartphone, without the requirement of an in-person meeting. “With MDBox, we are simultaneously providing greater access to healthcare and lowering costs without compromising patient care. We are proud to be among those leading the telemedicine revolution,” says Dr. Henry Legere, Founder and CEO of Reliant Immune Diagnostics. Through its innovative solution, the firm offers control and convenience to every consumer and empowers patients to take charge of their healthcare anywhere, anytime. Striving for professional excellence and medical expertise across all virtual medicine encounters, Reliant Immune Diagnostics aims to provide cost-effective quality symptom-specific consumer-driven healthcare and wellness to everyone.
From Symptom to Solution, In Less Than 30 Minutes
Reliant created its telemedicine platform at a time when the healthcare landscape was experiencing critical changes in regulations. The state-to-state variation in laws governing telehealth and the nuanced interplay between state regulations and federal policies were inhibiting healthcare providers from leveraging telemedicine technologies to their full potential. “Some states restricted healthcare professionals from interacting with patients via phone calls, others through video chats, and in a few states a patient had to meet the physician face to face before a telemedicine visit,” informs Dr. Legere. Moreover, the biggest limitation of telemedicine was the inability of physicians to gather vital information such as blood pressure, heart rate, pulse level, and more.
Aiming to bridge this existing gap and increase access to quality healthcare, Reliant built the MDBox platform to not only connect patients with doctors from the comforts of their homes but also provide healthcare professionals with the ability to administer onsite screening tests for flu, strep and sore throat, pink eye, urinary tract infection, and more at healthcare centers and in-store clinics.
The firm accomplishes this with a suite of diagnostic tests, AI and machine learning-driven diagnostic tools, and personal health data tracking. In contrast to many other telemedicine platforms, Reliant’sMDBox is a complete consumer-driven healthcare platform that enables healthcare providers to test, diagnose, and monitor the health of patients—all in one place.
With MDBox, we are simultaneously providing greater access to healthcare and lowering costs without compromising patient care
The firm also partners with retail pharmacies to provide over-the-counter telemedicine visits. A person experiencing health issues needs to download the MDBox app on their mobile device. Once in the app, the user is required to answer some basic questions about their symptoms, and within minutes, is connected to a licensed medical provider who, through video chat, diagnoses the condition and determines an appropriate treatment plan. The on-demand medical provider can prescribe medication if required. The consultation is complete in less than 30 minutes and for under 50 dollars. After the consultation, the patient can walk into the nearest pharmacy of their choice to pick up up the treatment plan or prescription.“No insurance necessary, no appointment needed, and no hidden fees. It is a complete medical visit that takes place through an app on one’s phone. It is a simple, one-stop-shop that people can afford,” adds Dr. Amy Altman, COO of Reliant.
In case, during the virtual visit, the physician suggests the person take a blood test, the patient can use the MDBox app to schedule an appointment with any of Reliant’s nearest telemedicine extender sites or partner retail pharmacies. Physician extenders at these locations will be ready to collect the sample, carryout the screening test, and upload the data to the server, so that during the next visit, doctors can refer to the information for further diagnosis. Moreover, these retail pharmacies also have onsite capabilities with the AI and machine vision tools and integrated Bluetooth devices that make it easier for the physician extenders to gather critical information such as blood pressure, heart and lung sounds, and more. As such, when a patient video chats in-app with a care provider, no time is wasted. They can receive the right treatment, right away, with an average wait time of less than five minutes. It is a truly personalized medical visit, where the quality of care provided is the same as that in a primary care center.
‘Whenever, Wherever, Feel Better’
Aside from connecting patients and medical providers, the platform also helps reduce the overall expense spent on healthcare. Despite the benefits telemedicine offers in terms of better access to care and time efficiency, less than one percent of employees utilize the telemedicine services provided to them because these health plans are offered through private third-party physician groups at an additional cost. As a result, a person is paying twice the price: a monthly fee for the telemedicine service that they even aren’t using and the consultation fee for care offered at urgent care. With Reliant’s telemedicine platform, on the other hand, a user has to pay a flat fee for the visit and prescription charges if needed.
Dr. Amy Altman, COO, Reliant Immune Diagnostics
There are no subsequent billings. “In this manner, we save you several hundred dollars to even a thousand dollars per visit, and improve employee’s utilization of telemedicine by ten percent,” mentions Dr. Altman.
To further elucidate the efficacy of MDBox, Dr. Legere cites the story of an investor who was planning to visit Reliant’s office to oversee the demonstration of their telemedicine platform. However, on the day of his supposed visit, the investor called in to inform that he wouldn’t be able to make it since he had symptoms of pink eye. “We realized this was the best opportunity to prove the competence of our product and asked him to download our app and follow the process,” recalls Dr. Legere. In a few minutes, he was able to connect to a physician who prescribed the required medicine that he was able to collect from a nearby pharmacy. Impressed with the comfort and convenience offered by Reliant’s telemedicine platform, the investor wired in funds for the company, later that day.
Envisioning a Future Rooted in Success
While success stories like these propel Reliant forward, Dr. Altman believes that the combined experience and expertise of the core team (which is close to a hundred years) in different fields of medicine also play a significant role in the company’s evolution. “Each member brings with them unique complementary skill sets, which has allowed us to put together a comprehensive platform—one of the fastest-growing medical practices in the country today,” she adds. The firm also has a suite of patented products, some of which are licensed, and few of them are co-applied with the University of Illinois for grants and funding. Recently, Reliant and the University of Illinois received two different grants—one from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and another from the National Science Foundation (NSF)—for creating a point-of-care test analyzer for infectious diseases.
MDBox is currently available in 12 states and a total of 500 locations across the U.S. By the end of 2020, Reliant aims to expand its service across 23,000 locations in all of the 50 states and broaden its geographical footprint worldwide. Alongside this, the firm is also working on building its specialty provider networks. In light of this, Reliant has started credentialing cardiologists, pulmonologists, dermatologists, psychiatrists, neurologists, and a handful of other specialties to its network of healthcare providers and the telemedicine platform. On the anvil are also plans to add new indications and capabilities to the platform for assessing mental health, skin-related diseases, and more.
Telemedicine is slowly becoming mainstream and going forward, it will only continue to grow commensurate with population health management and other initiatives aimed at improving the quality of care. Considering the healthcare crisis and the shortage of physicians in the U.S. today, Reliant is moving the needle in healthcare, but ensuring medical care is equally accessible by all. Legere believes this can be done through alternative telemedicine platforms like MDBox that facilitate seamless connection and broader access to the best quality medical care for everyone.