Consumerization is finally coming to healthcare. Prior to the pandemic, patients’ expectations were shifting, as industry after industry began delivering them on-demand services while healthcare lagged behind. The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated this trend as millions more patients received care virtually—introducing many to the idea of healthcare where and when they needed it. Now, healthcare companies from telehealth platforms to insurance plans are investing in another means of consumerization: in-home care.
Is in-home care essential to the next wave of consumerization in healthcare? Eddie Peloke, CEO of Workpath spoke to the key role that in-home care can play in this industry-wide movement.
Workpath’s journey from a niche service provider for ordering and conducting in-home blood tests to a full-service in-home care platform with a diverse customer base of providers, labs and digital health companies is a compelling one. Since the company’s launch in 2015, CEO Eddie Peloke has steered the company through a period of rapid acceleration, diversifying its customer base and leading to an acquisition by Ro a little less than one year ago.
First, Workpath constructed a platform for enabling in-home blood draws to be conducted on demand, unlocking a more convenient, consumerized experience whenever blood draws are required. A feature that the platform has offered its customers and their patients from the start is live notifications tracking when the phlebotomist is set to arrive as easily as ordering and tracking a pizza delivery.
“When you think about other consumer industries, such as restaurant delivery, consumers are used to being able to sit on their couch, order a pizza, have the pizza delivered, and see where the pizza is on the journey to their home. But in healthcare, there has been this paradigm of, ‘I feel horrible, I’m sick, I need to get in the car and drive somewhere to get checked out.’ And we’re trying to change that.”
Workpath has since expanded its platform to offer its customers not only scheduling and dispatch software, but also a nationwide labor network of healthcare professionals and the ability to report back test results or clinical notes. Healthcare companies can use the platform to power on-demand, in-home healthcare services nationwide for blood tests and other skilled medical services.
The Workpath acquisition fits into Ro’s direct-to-patient care platform by building on the range of services it can offer patients. In a blog post last year at the time of the deal, Ro CEO and Co-founder Zachariah Reitano pointed out that Workpath’s weekly appointment volume had grown 165% since the first confirmed Covid-19 case was reported in the U.S., and would power 100,000 in-home care appointments for clinical trial operators, Fortune 100 companies, and the nation’s largest diagnostic laboratories that year.
Soon following the acquisition, Workpath supported a new kind of in-home service, as part of Ro’s COVID-19 Vaccine Drive with the New York State Department of Health. This initiative tapped into Workpath’s ability to coordinate and dispatch the healthcare professionals delivering and administering the vaccines and to send real-time alerts to patients about their appointments.
With so many forced to work from home when the Covid-19 pandemic took hold last year, Workpath’s services became invaluable not only for telehealth companies, diagnostic labs and providers to reach their patients but also for life science companies to do clinical trials unimpeded.
“When the Covid pandemic forced many companies to hit the pause button on clinical trials because cancer patients and others in trials with compromised immune systems were more vulnerable to the virus, forward looking life science companies turned to Workpath and asked us to support delivery of trial functions like blood testing in patients’ homes,” Peloke noted.
Providing a way to support clinical trials in the comfort of patients’ homes also supports another healthcare trend: decentralized clinical trials. Although decentralized clinical trials are usually discussed in the context of connected devices and the use of real world evidence, Workpath’s nationwide labor force provides trial operators a means of completing in-home blood draws and other services adds another wrinkle to the advancement of this trend.
“What we thought was going to happen in five or 10 years in the clinical trials space happened a lot sooner [due to the pandemic],” Peloke added.
Although phlebotomy is the low hanging fruit that Workpath initially seized, Peloke shared that the company sees opportunities to support additional services such as chronic care and even ultrasounds.
Although the pandemic has made trial operators and providers keenly aware of the opportunities Workpath’s platform creates, Peloke regards consumerization as a decisive factor in its future growth. Healthcare companies can use the platform internally to set-up appointments or send their patients an email or SMS message to a white-labeled consumer experience for the patient to enter their required information and schedule an appointment at their convenience.
“We’re going to continue to see patients demand a better experience at each step in their healthcare journeys. And, I think we’re also going to continue to see telehealth grow. More people have been introduced to telehealth and are going to seek it out for more and more of their needs, which is where our in-home services come in.
He believes that Workpath’s services can become essential infrastructure for many digital health and telehealth companies, enabling them to dramatically expand on the services they offer by building beyond the limitations of remote and virtual care.
Peloke also notes that the legacy role of in-home care as a resource for the elderly and disabled is only the tip of the iceberg of patients who could benefit from care delivered in their living rooms.
He added: “We think there are huge opportunities and huge benefits for doing in-home care for the elderly. But we see a world where those benefits should be applicable to everybody.”
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