Telehealth provider Reliq Health Technologies Inc. (RHT:TSX.V; RQHTF:OTCQB; A2AJTB:WKN) expects to post its first ever profit in the current quarter, according to CEO Lisa Crossley. In early August, the company announced the addition of HIV care services to its iUGO care platform and said that it has signed a contract to offer services to six primary physician practices, expecting to enroll 4,000 new chronic disease patients to the remote-monitoring patient platform this year through the contract. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, pulmonary obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease account for 70 to 80% of U.S. healthcare spending.
The Company’s iUGO platform supports Medicaid- and Medicare-financed remote patient monitoring (RPM), chronic care management (CCM), and behavioral health integration (BHI) services, allowing the healthcare team and patients to manage chronic disease symptoms from home. The platform tracks vital signs, reminds and monitors the patient’s adherence to taking medicines, and alerts family and healthcare providers to prevent further escalation of the disease.
The information is stored in a secure cloud and allows the patient's healthcare team to collaborate and intervene when necessary to head off hospital stays and serious health consequences, such as falls, pneumonia, amputations or blindness from diabetes.
Crossley, who holds a PhD in chemical engineering and has run three companies as CEO prior to Reliq, had long envisioned working for a company that would address the chronic disease issues of elderly patients. Preventing complications of chronic disease at home extends patients’ lives and provides them higher quality of life, she noted.
Her views were shaped through exposure to the chronic disease population all her life. Crossley’s mother, a neurologist, headed the stroke unit at the now-closed Riverdale Hospital in Toronto.
Crossley spent her early years in daycare and nursery school at the chronic care hospital, volunteered during her summers as a teen, and worked there over her summers in college. Being raised by two physicians — her stepdad was a palliative care physician — heightened her awareness of the difficult late stages of life for chronic disease patients.
Finally in 2016, she joined her fourth company as CEO, Reliq Health Technologies, which then entered the telehealth business through the acquisition that year of CareKit Health.
Connecting providers and patients outside of clinical settings benefits everyone in the circle of care, even though this patient population is not comfortable with technology. Not only are they not tech-savvy, but they often do not own or have access to phones or tablets. Patients may reside in communities without dependable internet access or suffer health impediments such as dementia, poor eyesight, language issues, and other barriers.
On Wednesday, Reliq announced that it is expanding its iUGO Care platform and Care Management Services to over 1,500 patients through Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“The RHCs will use iUGO Care to monitor their chronic disease patients in order to prevent complications that can lead to hospitalization or death. The number of deaths in the USVI attributed to chronic disease has increased by over 30% in the last decade, so there is an urgent need for tools that will enable a more proactive, preventative approach to healthcare in this community,” explained Crossley.
Reliq designs its products for flexible and easy use across diverse populations. Crossley said the platform is flexible enough to meet people where they are, describing blood pressure cuffs and blood glucose meters with built-in cellular devices that transmit monitoring data without the need for a cell phone or Internet connection, all the way up to a mobile App for more tech-savvy patients.
Healthcare reimbursement was slow to catch up with remote patient monitoring. Medicare and Medicare initiated their first reimbursement code in January of 2018. Crossley and others actively advocated for remote patient monitoring as a game-changer for reducing costs and improving patient outcomes.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) eventually came around to invest in the proactive medical care that can save them trillions of dollars in the long run and make the healthcare system more sustainable for the next generations of chronic disease patients.
During COVID, providers were given greater flexibility to deliver telehealth services to Medicare and Medicaid patients in their homes. CMS is aggressively funding in-home patient monitoring today, while reimbursement has expanded to cover more diseases, more services, and higher physician reimbursement.
“Now our typical clinician makes $372 per patient per month vs. $59 as recently as 2019, Crossley said. “The scope of the program now covers more chronic diseases and more services for those patients, including mental health care coordination.” The company has three years of clinical data demonstrating efficacy and data showing clinicians do receive reimbursement.
“This will be our first full profitable quarter, but we expect going forward that we will have gross margins of over 75% and EBITDA margins of over 45%.” The company is poised for rapid growth, as a classic software model that will benefit from economies of scale.
The model contrasts with competitors that offer complex, costly solutions that require significant ongoing support for clinical users as well as patients, and who must continue to hire employees as they scale, leading to single digit EBITDA margins. “Market conditions have really lined up so that it is a perfect storm for us.” Crossley expects to have “very compelling, over 45% EBITDA margins by the end of this year.”
1) Gerri Leder compiled this article for Streetwise Reports LLC and provides services to Streetwise Reports as an independent contractor/employee. He/she or members of his/her household own securities of the following companies mentioned in the article: None. He/she or members of his/her household are paid by the following companies mentioned in this article: None. His/her company has a financial relationship with the following companies referred to in this article: None.
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