CEO Rhonda Bray joins Slice of Healthcare to discuss Rhythm, clinical impact, and the future of Remote Patient Monitoring. You can find the original podcast here.
Jared Taylor: Everyone thanks so much for joining me on the Slice of Healthcare podcast. Joining me today is Rhonda Bray, the founder, and CEO at Rhythm Management Group
Rhonda & Rhythm
Jared Taylor: Let’s just dive right into it and would love to hear about your background and then we can talk more about Rhythm
Rhonda Bray: Sure, so like you mentioned I’m the founder and CEO of Rhythm. Just a bit about me I come from a health care background I started as a nurse—specific to cardiology, and then I moved into managing patients with implantable pacemakers and defibrillators. About eleven years ago I saw a really big service gap where patients had these implanted devices and the technology was available to monitor them from home. But what we were seeing is physicians weren’t able to utilize the technology because there was so much coming at them, and they didn’t know what to do with it so again from my nursing perspective.
I approached it with more oversight on the service side and we launched the company as a very heavy service company, so we were taking care of patients and we nailed it.But we also knew that we needed to bring in technology to help us grow the company and create a national footprint, so that’s a little bit about how it started. Then, you know, during covid about three years ago remote monitoring really came out strong because patients didn’t have access like they had access prior to their physicians. So really it took us from a place of nice to have to a state of absolutely critical and necessary particularly for this patient population.
Breakdown Business Today
Jared Taylor: And can you give us a breakdown of all facets of the business today? I know usually we focus on the “why, how, what.” But you kind of already gave us the why in your intro but it’s really important for our guests and for our audience to understand that how and what as well
Rhonda Bray: Yeah, so what we do is again these patients are some of the sickest of the sick because they’re at a stage in life where there they have implanted devices of some sort. So whether it’s a pacemaker or a defibrillator and that the devices are incredibly complex and send us rich data on the patient’s history, a heart rhythm for some. And some of that data can actually be used for predictive analysis so it impacts re-hospitalization and it impacts how physicians can care for these patients. So how we do it is the device is the patients, and they have little monitors by their bedside that transmit the data to us. That goes through our software platform, and we make sense of it for the physicians. We actually simplify it and give them a really concise overview of what’s happening so they’re not having to look through sixty pages of data. That’s how we do it. That’s how we have made it efficient, and that’s how we can take care of now over a hundred thousand patients.
Current State of the Industry
Jared Taylor: And when you look at the current state of the industry, where are things at with remote patient monitoring and then where do you see them heading from here?
Rhonda Bray: It’s a really good question and we’re actually now very involved in policy and reimbursement changes that Medicare is forcing. But we’re on the leading edge of saying “wait a minute.” We proved during the pandemic that remote patient monitoring—whether it’s implantable devices or wearable devices—are critical and we have tried forming the way that now patients are willing to be treated you know from a health care perspective or interact with their physicians. So we are again leading our sort of charge with Medicare to make sure that this specific specialty is reimbursed, but also remote monitoring on a larger scale maintains its reimbursement so that physicians and patients continue to have access to health care.
Blockers in the Space
Jared Taylor: I would love to hear more about some of the continuous blockers in the space, and also maybe how you’ve seen some of these blockers go away in recent years. I always am interested in the barriers to entry and then how you got past those initially. And then what you envision will be a potential blocker in the future, you don’t have to go into you know giving your secret sauce strategy
Rhonda Bray: I think early on a big blocker was the technology itself so the devices for us are incredibly complicated and our patient demographic tends to be a little bit older. They were very hesitant to adopt this—what seemed like you know black box and “are you watching me at night” and “can you hear my conversations.” So initially the blocker was just educating patients on this is actually a safer way for us to care for you and if you allow us to manage your data, we can actually give your physician more information than they were equipped with. Then if you didn’t have this box at home so that was early on a very it was a big blocker.
Then again a fast forward to the pandemic where everything changed, and patients started to understand that for them to get the help, access to the health care that they wanted, they actually had to embrace the idea of being monitored from their home. A continued blocker for us is compliance. We need them to keep those monitors at home plugged in so that we continue to care for them. So going back to how we started the company, we started from a very service-minded perspective and we continue that today even though we’re technical. And that enables us to scale we still have hundreds of employees on the front lines who are contacting patients on a continuous basis just to say hey we’re losing touch with you and we need to keep you connected. We want to keep you connected to keep you out of the hospital, to keep you well to keep your physician informed. So I think that, as we grow it is likely that is one of the barriers to entry—which is “how do you maintain the service.” And it goes back to the policy side of Medicare, but how do you maintain such a high touch service business and continue to keep contact with patients, maintain the reimbursement and provide good quality of care and keep your technology relevant and adaptable? Because we’re actually getting lots of data, we’re applying lots of machine learning, and we’re trying to make our clinicians more agile and more efficient.
Jared Taylor: I’d like to shift focus a little bit now Rhonda, to talk a little bit about this recent acquisition that your company had. I might mess this up is it Equis Consulting Group? Talk us through you know this acquisition, why it made sense and what really excites you about it moving forward.
Rhonda Bray: Yeah! It’s an incredibly exciting opportunity it’s our first acquisition, and we’re about three months in so we’re outside of the honeymoon phase. Right, we’re now in it and we are actively moving patients on to our platform, we get to engage with new customer bases that are in parts of the country where we didn’t have access. So, if you think middle of the country: Indiana, Alabama. It gives us access to a different customer base. Equis was a service-only company, so I can relate they came from the exact spot that we were and we are applying our technology to help us internally take on the patients and become more efficient. Also, there was, with Equis and their model, they didn’t go after a lot of the practices I’m sorry a lot of the patients in the practice so now because we have such a strong service support arm that’s our focus let’s go get the patients that we may have missed and make sure that they are on the platform so that we can care. So, it’s a really exciting opportunity, and it’s really launched us into a leading spot in this industry.
Jared Taylor: Do you think there will be other acquisitions that you will explore over the next few years?
Rhonda Bray: Yeah, I mean this goes back to the policy changes right we’re trying to maintain reimbursement. But there are some companies that just are not going to be able to provide the service because the reimbursement is changing. So we’re looking at a very different landscape we are positioned to continue, and a lot of that is because we have technology supporting us and there is service providers out there that don’t have the backing of that technology platform. So those patients still need to be cared for, and I think it’s a good opportunity for us to start partnering with other companies.
Jared Taylor: And I think you know making acquisitions can be difficult to create the right energies right and make these successful, so you know seeing that you’ve been able to do that, and you are doing that there probably is, I’m sure, right when the right deal comes along to bring on those companies and follow the similar path that you have in the past
Rhonda Bray: Without a doubt we’re looking at it constantly
2023 and Beyond
Jared Taylor: What’s next that you can share with the organization that you’re really excited about? You know not just the acquisition, but moving forward into 2023 and beyond?
Rhonda Bray: What I see is next, not just for our company but as the industry in general, so remote patient monitoring outside of implantables is almost everything now can be monitored and managed remotely. So, we are looking as a company but again as an industry at what other services can we expand to continue to have patients engaged, to continue giving physicians the information and data they need to make good medical decisions and care for their patients. I really think the sky is the limit. I mean, we are getting into what pressure weight management we’re getting into diabetes you can go into some neurology stuff obviously behavioral health, so I think it’s super exciting the way that health care is constantly evolving and we’re really on the leading edge of that it’s a really great opportunity for all of us in the remote monitoring space.
Jared Taylor: Well, I’m excited to continue to stay in touch with you and follow the progress of Rhythm and really look forward to hopefully having you on again in the future to dive into some other topics
Rhonda Bray: Thank you for having me great talking about it
Jared Taylor: Absolutely! Thank you so much