Thomas Morrow MD
Over a century ago a concept termed “twin cities,” (“sister cities” in the US) was started in Europe as a way of promoting mutual understanding and cross-border economic, academic and cultural projects of mutual benefit. The practice expanded dramatically after World War II across Europe and the United States as well as other nations. One such sister city agreement was made between Liverpool, England and Birmingham, Alabama.
Recently, the cities of Liverpool and Birmingham met to discuss collaborative projects. One company that Birmingham bragged about was ConcertCare, a small technology company that has a unique approach to telehealth.
Interestingly, it just so happened that Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool had a problem they needed solved. The maternity department of a nearby women’s hospital frequently called them because a newborn was in acute distress. This almost daily occurrence led to having a fragile newborn transported to the children’s hospital or having a surgeon, in the middle of a busy operating schedule, delay a surgical case while he drove to the women’s hospital to see the infant. Because of the high level of caution when dealing with premature and distressed infants, the issues were often not as acute as feared; however, the cost to both hospitals and the health system were high.
The idea born from this “sister” relationship was that a telehealth solution would not only save time and money but lead to less risk in transporting infants back and forth. At the same time, if the infant did need emergency care, the ability for the new mom to “virtually visit” with her newborn while recovering from the delivery would lead to better bonding and reduce anxieties for young families.
The CEO of ConcertCare, Tanveer Patel, flew to Liverpool for a month of intense IT planning and development and opened an office there hiring and managing local employees to build the software infrastructure needed to support this unique need—something off-the-shelf telemedicine platforms could not do. Eventually ConcertCare will integrate the platform into their two distinctly different health care records systems.
ConcertCare is unique in a number of ways. They offer a proprietary solution that is not just a two-way audio/video connection. They can offer numerous connections simultaneously, such as one for the mom, baby, consultants in another locations, and so on.
Their system is also very simple, a necessary ingredient for busy health care systems. It takes just three clicks and you are connected. The interaction is also recorded and can be used in an asynchronous manner for auditing, review by third parties, or whoever is needed. This is something most other telehealth systems cannot do because of the foundational technology they employ. It is also HIPPA compliant, available as both a cloud and mobile solution, able to be customized with ease and can integrate with virtually any commercially available hardware attachments.
But ConcertCare is not only working on strengthening relationships between England and the US. They are also working on a number of other unique telehealth solutions in the US. Their ability to deeply integrate the telehealth platform into existing systems and build entire platforms around their existing telehealth system finds them working with another exciting startup located in St Louis—one that aims to stir up the joint replacement industry.
This start up, Orthopedic Centers Of America, which I will highlight in an upcoming commentary, will enable virtually any hospital in the US to meet the new bundled payment model CMS has instituted. All while reducing costs, adverse outcomes, and improving outcomes.
ConcertCare is another shining example of how digital technology is rapidly becoming a buttress to the practice of medicine!