Russ: Hi I’m Russ Capper and this is BusinessMakers USA, brought to you by Insperity, inspiring business performance. Coming to you today from Nashville, Tennessee, and I’m very pleased to have as my guest, Lanson Hyde, CEO of Satchel Health. Lanson, welcome to the show.
Lanson: Thank you for having me.
Russ: You bet. Tell us about Satchel Health.
Lanson: Satchel is a data first approach to telemedicine, focused exclusively on the post-acute space in, more specifically, really targeting skilled nursing facilities. We are a patient and nurse conduit to a provider, and so there are coverage gaps where you do not have providers in these buildings for long periods of time, and we help bridge that gap with the focus of reducing readmissions and providing better care.
Russ: Ok, so what do you mean when you say data first?
Lanson: We really look at telemedicine. It means a lot of different things to a lot of people. We have a technology that’s very clinically robust, we think it’s best in class, top of line, that really creates a unique experience for the provider. Our goal is to make them feel like they’re in the room with the patient. So, we’ve got the biometric devices, the pulsox, the blood pressure, the working stethoscope, a dermatoscope to look at wounds, anything that provider needs to feel like they’re in there with the patient personally. It’s an impressive technology, we’ve built it from the ground up, we have our own dev team. As nice as that is, we don’t hang our hat on it because ultimately technology is going to be a commodity. It’s really the back-end that I get excited about. It’s the data, it’s the software, the proprietary software that we built that I think separates us in the marketplace. It’s the clinical workflows that we’ve built into the product, the ease of use. We’ve made it very intuitive so that the nurses and LPNs can pick up on it very quickly.
Russ: Just to understand terminology, when you’re talking about the provider, you’re talking about the doctor that’s viewing the patient in the acute care place.
Lanson: That’s right. We connect the patient that needs the care with the right provider when they need it. It’s really care on demand. And by doing that, patients get better instead of sicker and we break that cycle that’s so prevalent in that space of, really, readmissions. The way it is today, the status quo is someone gets sicker, they’re on the third shift, you’ve got an LPN that’s overworked, spread too thin, they’ve got 20 patients, someone gets sick, just send them to the hospital, just send them. And so, we break that cycle.
Russ: When you’re talking about getting them to the right provider, somewhere, somebody is describing the condition of the patient, or the provider already knows the patient from prior visits. Is that it?
Lanson: That’s pretty close. So, what we do; the nurse initiates the encounter, or the visit, and they list a chief complaint and there’s a decision tree from there; data gets entered in so that by the time we ring the physician it’s all neatly compiled, it’s all laid out, they know exactly what’s going on, and they can either take the encounter or not. If they can’t take the encounter for whatever reason, we’ve got backup networks. We then can go to provider number two, three, four, five.
Russ: The physicians that participate, how do you select them, and is there training involved?
Lanson: What we like to do that differentiates us a little bit from our competitors, we like to try to use the attending physician. That patient’s doctor is our first choice. If we can’t get them for whatever reason then we will build and go to a back-up network, but we always try to get the patient’s physician first.
Russ: What if the patient’s physician, let’s say the patient is new and their physician is not expecting a telemedicine call to render some advice and aid. Do you call them anyway? Do they dial up and get on whatever your viewer is, your Skype-like deal, and watch and know exactly what to do, or is their training involved?
Lanson: That’s a good question. There’s training and implementation on the front end. Where you see people get into trouble with any type of tech or telemedicine is the sort of Silicon Valley approach where you just drop it off and hope for the best. What we’ve really done is built out the human component; the training, the implementation, the account management, the repeat visits, all the touches that you have to have.
Russ: I’m still curious though about your differentiator, which is the technology and the data. I think I understand the technology; these devices, the biometrics, and all of the different devices that you’re running tests on the patient. You’re saying you do that very well, but you also mentioned software and data. Where is that playing the role?
Lanson: The way that works is when you have your own dev team, and we’ve got a fantastic dev team of really bright, conscientious people that are really interested in putting out the best product that we possibly can. When you have that, and you harness it correctly, you can do something special that some of the others in the market that don’t have that just wind up with sort of a bolt-on type of product that’s clunky, inflexible. It doesn’t really fit the workflows. That’s something else that we’re very serious about is integrating into existing workflows. There’s a nursing component to that, there’s a physician component to that, and when you have your own dev team and you can design this from the ground up around those workflows, it makes for a much smoother product and it makes for a much better adoption.
Russ: I know that your background includes a lot of extensive healthcare, hospital oriented leadership positions, but you’re relatively new at Satchel, right?
Lanson: It’s about between three and four months.
Russ: What about that place excited you and caused you to go, hey, I want to be a part of this?
Lanson: Well, my last startup, I had been there for 13 years, and it was approaching maintenance mode. I wanted to find that next adventure, something that was ready to scale that I could get passionate about again. I was really looking in two areas; in one of the areas I was looking at was anything in the post-acute space that was improving care, shifting the cost curve, and perfectly aligned with the payers. That’s exactly where I wanted to be, and I found it, I just got lucky. I knew some of the investors who said you really need to talk to this company. We had some discussions, it felt good, and I like the market, there’s a lot of white space. One hundred percent of the participants in the market have to solve a very specific set of problems within the next two years if they want to remain viable. We’ve got a very robust product today that solves that for them and does it efficiently.
Russ: So, what is it about Satchel Health that made you want to be part of it, to be the leader of it, and that keeps you excited every day?
Lanson: It’s really that there’s, in our space, in this sniff space there’s huge coverage gaps where you do not have a provider in the facilities, and patients aren’t always getting the care they need when they need it. We just feel that there are a lot of people out there that need help and we have a solution that can help them today and do so very efficiently. And when we do that, we take a lot of the costs out of the system. Our client benefits, the hospital benefits, and the payer benefits, and the patient benefits. It’s that alignment and it’s that passion for taking care of these patients that really gets me excited every day.
Russ: I’m sure our viewers are wondering, I mean, I know the company is still young. Even though you’ve only been there a few months it’s only what, three, three and a half years old?
Lanson: That’s right.
Russ: Ok, so how would you describe the status of it today?
Lanson: Doing very well. We’re on course.
Russ: You’re in business?
Lanson: We are in business. We are in 20 facilities across 7 states. We just signed another big client two weeks ago that we’re excited about that’s more on the payer side, which is a side of the business that I get really excited about. I think they are probably the ultimate client, they are the ones that can benefit the most from this reduction in readmissions.
Russ: So, on the payer side you’re kind of talking about health insurance?
Lanson: That’s right, that’s right.
Russ: And some of these things are not necessarily reimbursed, or have to be evaluated before they are?
Lanson: Well, the reimbursement in telemedicine is a funny thing. You can get paid by Medicaid, you can get paid by a lot of the commercial payers, but CMS, Medicare, who stands to benefit the most, is the one that’s lagging behind. You have to be in a, basically, a rural area or shortage area to have a reimbursable event. What we have found, the real value to our clients are when you stop that readmission, when you bring down that readmission average, that hospital pays attention. Hospitals now are acting as payers, they’re taking risks. They don’t want those patients coming back. If they’re your number one referral source they want to know that you’re being good stewards to those patients and you’re not just sending them back to them. So, as these networks narrow, and hospitals call the underperformers out, if you get left out you might not be viable. We’re seeing that happen all across the country. That’s some of the tailwinds that I mentioned earlier.
Russ: So, before I let you go, what is your picture of Satchel five years down the road?
Lanson: That’s a great question. I’ve been thinking in six to twelve-month increments.
Russ: I’m challenging you there.
Lanson: So, the first kind of stuff was get in there, see what you had, make some small tweaks and changes. We just completed a big equity round. We are gearing up for the next one and we will have a series A. I’d like to keep going with the payer side. I’d like to be in 500, 1000, 1,500 facilities.
Russ: Well, that’s impressive. I want to stay in touch, Lanson, and maybe check back with you in about a year and see how you’re doing.
Lanson: That’d be great.
Russ: All right, thanks a lot for being with us.
Lanson: Thank you very much for having me.
Russ: You bet. And that wraps up my discussion with Lanson Hyde, the CEO of Satchel Health, and this is BusinessMakers USA.
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