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Phoenix startup company establishes remote healthcare access
When it comes to healthcare, imagine a world in which long waits at the doctor’s office and valued time taken from work and family are virtually nonexistent.
Thanks to the latest advancements in technology, that “imagined” world is closer to becoming a reality. Telemedicine is the latest concept in healthcare services, giving patients and healthcare providers the ability to connect remotely for health evaluations, diagnosis and treatment.
“Telemedicine isn’t necessarily new; it’s been around for about 20 years,” says Dr. Robb Leigh, chief medical officer of Akos, an Arizona-based telemedicine provider. “In the last few years, however, because of advancements in technology, telemedicine has gained momentum as many healthcare providers and systems realize it’s highly applicable in today’s market.”
Founded by Dr. Kishlay Anand, a cardiologist and electrophysiologist; and Dr. Swaraj Singh, a vascular neurologist, Akos was fittingly named for the Greek word “remedy.”
Here’s how it works: Using the Akos app on their smartphone, tablet or computer, patients enter their demographic information and symptoms. They are then connected by phone call with a care coordinator, who will go over the patient’s symptoms in more detail, ensuring the caller can be treated via telemedicine. If so, the patient is then connected with a physician, using face-to-face interaction via the app.
“The physician will review the symptoms the caller entered, review such information as past medical history and medication history, and come up with a diagnosis impression and treatment plan for the patient,” says Dr. Leigh, adding that there are a number of conditions that can be treated safely through telemedicine.
“Examples would be minor headaches, sinus infections, bronchitis, sore throat, mild asthma, nausea and vomiting, and minor injuries,” he says. “For more serious conditions like head injuries, loss of consciousness, fractures, large cuts and bleeding, the patient should go to the emergency room or urgent care.”
The app also features a triage system that alerts the patient to go directly to the ER if they have a serious or life-threatening condition, and a feature that can send electronic prescriptions to the pharmacy of the patient’s choice, anywhere in the U.S.
“In healthcare, there’s a significant shortage of physicians and it can be difficult for patients who need immediate attention to receive the care they need without going to their primary care physician, urgent care or ER,” Dr. Leigh says. “Telemedicine bypasses the need for the patient to go somewhere to see a doctor.”
Akos officially launched this spring to the consumer market. This summer, they launched a B2B program that offers the service to businesses and their employees.
“In one platform, we offer workers’ compensation and employee medical benefits,” says Dr. Leigh, adding that the B2B program is what differentiates Akos from other telemedicine companies.
“After talking with people in the workers’ compensation arena, we learned employees often have to wait days, sometimes weeks, to see a specialist that may not be necessary. During that time, they’re home doing nothing,” explains Dr. Leigh. “At Akos, we assess the sick or injured employee as soon as possible and make the right recommendations.”
While the company just recently launched, Dr. Leigh says they are already looking at expanding the service to other states within the next six months or so.
“Right now, we’re only in Arizona. But we’ve recruited practitioners, doctors, and nurse practitioners with licenses in other states,” he says. “Also, many companies have a multi-state presence and we need to be ready to take them on when they sign on with us.”
Instrumental in Akos’ development, launch and nowgrowth is National Bank of Arizona®. Dr. Singh, one of the company’s founders, had personal accounts with the bank and was so impressed with the expertise, knowledge and customer service he received, he decided to expand his banking relationship with NB|AZ to include the business.
“What strikes us about NB|AZ is their commitment to promoting and helping new businesses, especially Arizona-based businesses,” says Dr. Leigh. “The bank has assisted us financially and given us the necessary support we need to get the business off the ground. It’s been a great relationship since the very beginning.”