By JOHN FOGARTY
Prior to the Coronavirus spreading into the U.S., Telescope Health leadership, Dr. Matthew Rill and co-founder Dr. Matt Thompson, understood the potential risk of overextension of services across Emergency Departments as patients looked for testing and medical care. Working with the City of Jacksonville, they set up a testing site in less than three days to reduce the emergency rooms' load. In the early spring of 2020, people feared coming to emergency rooms and doctors' offices. The result was an increase in the demand for telemedicine. The demand went from ten patients a day to over three hundred a day. Fortunately, during that same time, the demand in the emergency rooms fell to about 40 percent. Since Telescope Health and Emergency Resources Group are led by Rill, they can shift resources from the emergency room (ERG) to Telemedicine through Telescope Health.
Even before the COVID-19 crisis, Rill and his team realized the model that medicine was operating in wasn't working. As a result of the ACA, the move from fee-for-service health care to value-based reimbursement has accelerated. Recognizing that the change was necessary, Telescope Health launched its telemedicine program. Rill’s vision of using the emergency room staff from the Emergency Resources Group gives them an advantage over others without the Emergency room experience. Telescope Health providers are accustomed to dealing with emergencies, even if the patient has an emergency that telemedicine cannot handle. They can direct the patient to the correct facilities that can handle the issue. They also can contact the facilities they are en route to, and they are familiar with key things the treating physicians in the emergency room needs and wants to know.
In addition to those cases that don't need emergency care but may require follow-up with a specialist, the staff’s expertise acts as the correct specialist's connector. That is part of what every emergency room doctor and staff do—connect the patient with the next level of care.
Rill’s future vision includes even more technology and a different approach to delivering medical services. He sees that remote patient monitoring (RPM) will have a crucial role in telemedicine moving forward. Combined with chronic care management, RPM will help improve patients' overall care with two or more chronic conditions by ensuring they are following their care plans between office visits and giving the care team access to vital information.
Another use of telemedicine would be the follow-up visit. For example, if a patient is diagnosed with hypertension during his annual visit, the doctor will prescribe medicine and an RPM blood pressure measuring device. After monitoring the pressure for several days, the care staff can review the measurements and decide if the medications need to be adjusted. If no adjustment is necessary, they can communicate with the patient and repeat the check-in for two weeks. If the medicines require an adjustment, they can have a telemedicine visit to inform the patient and call in new drugs and repeat. In the meantime, the patient doesn't have to travel to the office, and the doctor's staff can do the follow-up.
Under Rill's leadership, Telescope Health and Emergency Resources Group will continue to be on the cutting edge of health care doing the best for their patients and the overall health systems. His team may be coming to Orlando in the future.
The crisis has accelerated telemedicine's use by three to five years, including third-party payers' acceptance to begin paying. Telemedicine is also a much more cost-effective method to treat non-emergency conditions reducing the cost from $1300 per visit to $69 for a one-time visit Telescope charges.
Doctor Rill is CEO and Co-Founder of Telescope Health, a health care solutions company that initially began in May of 2019 with a telemedicine service. Since COVID, Telescope Health has evolved to become a key provider for COVID-19 services for the Northeast Florida community, including telemedicine patient visits and consultations, COVID testing, and safe event services.
“Telescope Health has been on the frontlines of coronavirus response since before the virus entered the U.S.,” said Rill. “We’ve had many resources at our disposal—including our emergency physicians from ERG—that were deployed to support Jacksonville’s public health initiatives. As we watch our health care system evolve due to this virus, Telescope Health has seen areas of opportunity to improve care by working with hospitals, health systems and even businesses, and we’ve gladly expanded our service offerings.”
Emergency Resources Group is based in Northeast Florida. ERG is an independent contractor of 225+ physicians and advanced practice clinicians, treating patients in 11 different clinical settings across 9 Northeast Florida hospitals and 2 Southeast Georgia hospitals. Dr. Rill is the CEO of ERG.
John Fogarty is regional Developer for RX2Live. He has spent 21 years in nuclear generation, transmission and distribution. He holds a master’s in International Management. He became an RX2Live developer to improve patient care and help providers and practices succeed. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or