Capital Region

Capital Region telemedicine firm grows along with field

Company has 99 percent patient satisfaction rate, 100 percent renewal rate

TROY — A local provider in the rapidly growing field of telemedicine will be pitching its services next week as human resource managers from across the state gather for their annual conference in Albany.

United Concierge Medicine is offering its virtual employee health care clinic with the promise of health and convenience for employees and lower insurance costs for employers. 

The young company has found a ready audience since its founding in 2014, CEO Keith Algozzine said: About 100,000 people nationwide now have access to its services, mostly through employers. United Concierge has 20 support personnel in its Troy headquarters and 50 medical personnel working from their homes. 

Algozzine said the company has a 99 percent patient satisfaction rate and 100 percent renewal rate with its business customers.

The telemedicine sector as a whole is on the rise as well: A National Business Group on Health survey found 96 percent of large employers planning to offer the option in 2018, up from 48 percent in 2014.

The two largest health insurers in the Capital Region are also on board: MVP Health Care rolled out myVisitNow this year and CDPHP is planning to roll out Doc On Demand on Jan. 1.

It will be available without any special signup to about two-thirds of CDPHP’s members, spokeswoman Ali Skinner said, and is designed to be a less-expensive, more-convenient option for members.

The challenge for the telemedicine industry has been getting people to take advantage of these proliferating options.

The same National Business Group on Health survey found low usage — more than 80 percent of the employers had utilization rates in the single digits.

Algozzine said he understands patients’ hesitation about telemedicine for the first time — they’re used to seeing a medical provider in person and can’t imagine accomplishing anything by phone.

“The only hurdle you have to overcome is to get them to try it once,” he said, adding that after they get on the phone or video conference with a doctor or physician’s assistant, they are quickly converted.

“I’m alone in my home and I get five, 10, 15 minutes alone with my provider,” Algozzine said, describing the typical patient reaction. “I can’t believe how personal that really was.”

That first patient will often tell co-workers, speeding the acceptance of telemedicine in that workplace, he said.

Algozzine, an Averill Park resident, is a physician’s assistant who worked for years in the emergency room at St. Mary’s Hospital in Troy, as did Dr. Michael Bibighaus, president and co-founder of United Concierge Medicine. There they saw tendency of people to use emergency rooms because they had no other option for health care. Quite often, an ER visit is the most expensive and time-consuming option, and quite often the patient doesn’t really need to be there. But he or she doesn’t have an alternative option, Algozzine said. So his company provides one.

A patient who landed badly on his wrist can get on a video conference on short notice with a doctor who’ll look at the wrist, order X-rays at the medical office if it seems like it might be broken, review the X-rays, and write a prescription for a painkiller if the wrist is merely bruised or a referral to another doctor if the wrist is broken.

“Unless it’s a 911 emergency, we want them to consult us,” Algozzine said.

United Concierge Medicine pitches this to patients as quick and convenient and to employers as a way to cut down on absenteeism and costs. By skipping some of the brick and mortar facilities of modern medicine — “changing the front door of health care,” as Algozzine says — the company can provide care at a lower cost.

It will be making its case at the Albany Capital Center next week for the annual New York State Human Resource Management Conference, which is expected to draw 450 to 500 HR professionals and falls about a month before the start of the 2018 health insurance open enrollment period, Nov. 1.

Beyond the numbers is the human impact of telemedicine, Algozzine said. The company was founded and is run by experienced emergency care providers and has a keen appreciation of that impact, he said. Along those lines, United refers to patients not as subscribers or members but as “lives,” and plans to add a lot more of them soon. 

“We anticipate by 2020 at the latest to have over a million lives,” Algozzine said.

Categories: Business, News, Schenectady County


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