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Mar 19, 2015, 6:16am CDT
Senior Staff writer- Memphis Business Journal
After nearly eight years of development, a Memphis doctor has launched a proprietary technology that will allow doctors to see patients via video conference on a computer, iPad or Android device.
Sam Faleye, a primary care physician and president and CEO of Primehealth Medical Center, has partnered with Los Angeles-based Snap MD to develop a telemedicine application. The app is being marketed through Meamedicus, which Faleye heads.
"Everybody isn't going to put all of the effort into developing it and making it work right," Faleye said. "But specialists already use telemedicine. A doctor in Florida can operate on a patient in New York with a da Vinci machine. Primary care is the hardest, and we're the ones who need telemedicine the most."
Patients can go through a secure portal to set up appointments, fill out an online encounter form and see a physician through their computer or device with a web connection. Faleye has been working on different types of the application for years, but he says it "never panned out." The partnership with Snap MD helped bridge the gap.
The application is especially useful for patients who don't have time to leave their jobs to sit in a waiting room to be seen for minor illnesses.
"It's not for emergencies because the doctor can't reach out and touch you, but if you have a cold or headache, they'll treat you without touching you anyway," Faleye says.
Dave Skibinski, president and CEO of Snap MD, said insurance companies are adapting to the growth of telemedicine. He says about half of the states in the U.S. have parity laws that allow physicians to bill for telemedicine.
"Tennessee and Mississippi are leaders, and other states have been very progressive," Skibinski said. "The opportunity we saw in the market was to build out an entire platform we can produce and provide for the population physicians serve."
For patients who have insurance that doesn't cover telemedicine, Faleye says there's an option for them to input a credit card to pay to be seen.
Faleye's next step would be to make Meamedicus' application available for use by other physicians. And, if it continues to grow, the overuse of emergency rooms for minor illnesses could decline if patients opt to go the telemedicine route instead.
"As providers of health care, we're still doing 1920s stuff, and this is 2015. That's not going to fly in the eyes of our patients," Faleye said. "The speed of medicine needs to be faster and more convenient. The reason the iPhone is successful is because it's a useful technology. And this is a useful technology."