Telemedicine as a business model has been hampered by the reluctance of practitioners to move from hospital or office-based medicine, and insurance companies that offered only cursory virtual-care coverage. In two months, everything changed, says Sarjoo Patel, founder of Beam Healthcare, which is seeing an upsurge in demand from health care institutions "because of our ability to assist from our years of experience."
Patel founded Beam Healthcare in Madison, Wisconsin, six years ago with two goals: first, to leverage technology to address the health care system's most pressing issues regarding cost, quality of care, and access; and second, to recruit tech-minded medical professionals, and then hang on to them for the long run as the market evolved. Today, with some 25 to 30 doctors and specialists across the U.S., Beam's array of telemed services--cardiological, pulmonary, and infectious disease consults for small rural hospitals and medical centers--is suddenly mainstream. Next up: smartphone visits with patients at distant locations.
The key to Beam's growth, says the 39-year-old Patel, is a culture of personal fulfillment: "If your associates and employees are happy, the products and services they deliver will be solid, and your customers and patients will be happy."
To that end, Beam hires relatively young yet seasoned professionals who share a supreme interest in the telemedical future, and are dedicated to deploying technology to foster change in health care. Staffers work in a high-pressure bubble that stresses collaboration and collegiality, flexibility, and intellectual curiosity. "What we and others are doing is a novel, exciting, and often exacting way of expanding medicine beyond how it has been traditionally practiced. It takes a special kind of person and culture to succeed and thrive," says Roswell Quinn, a 40-year-old internal medicine specialist in Palm Springs, California.
And they are doing more of it. Since the coronavirus crisis started, Beam has added telerespiratory therapy and telepharmacy lines. "Dr. Patel's genius has been to create a work environment that aims to bring out the best in all of us," says Quinn. "We're always trying to dig deeper and gain wider coverage, in conjunction with technology, for the services we have today and what we'll have tomorrow." And it's been made very clear that we are going to need them.