Just one month ago, Vishal Vasanji was working to educate urgent care clinics throughout Louisiana on the basics of telemedicine when pitching his platform, Relief Telemed. Today, he’s scrambling to keep up with a surge of unprecedented demand.
Within 48 hours of the governor’s stay-at-home order, Relief more than doubled its clientele, from four clinics to nine. Meanwhile, volume has increased by as much as 500% over the past few weeks.
“A lot of providers that were waiting to sign on with us before, now want us to have implemented Relief yesterday,” says Vasanji, who co-founded the telemedicine platform with LSU professor James Davis last year. “Because they’re forced to use it, a lot of them are seeing the benefits.”
Though nothing about the platform has changed, the recent uptick in demand has pushed Vasanji and Davis to automate some of their processes so that the client onboarding process—which used to take one to two weeks to complete—can now be done in one day, with clinics able to see patients via the Relief app the day after joining the platform.
It’s also led them to hire three new employees in the past two weeks, and they’re still looking to hire more salespeople, software developers and IT support.
“Right now, we’re hiring to serve the initial surge, so it really just depends on how much business keeps coming in the door,” Vasanji says. “We haven’t had a chance to breathe yet.”
Making things difficult, however, is the wave of competition that’s entered the local market since early March, when COVID-19 began spreading through the Baton Rouge area. More clinics are now using their own telemedicine platforms that were ingrained in their medical records systems. But Vasanji says he and Davis are positioning themselves as a viable and affordable alternative to clinics that aren’t satisfied with that existing solution.
Vasanji and Davis had closed on a small round of funding prior to COVID-19, but Vasanji says they’ve received a lot of interest in Relief Telemed since, from both past investors and new ones. His main takeaway from these conversations is that even after the pandemic subsides, telemedicine is here to stay.
“We’ll be responding to our current patients’ needs over the next three to four months, then we’ll take a step back and assess what all of this means for us,” Vasanji says. “Hopefully, we’ll be continuing on this momentum and scaling and expanding into new markets.”