Relief Telemed, a Baton Rouge-based technology startup that sells telemedicine software to health care providers, raised a $150,000 seed round from investors — mostly friends and family — and has entered a second round.
Relief Telemed was co-founded in 2017 by entrepreneur Vishal Vasanji and James Davis, a professor at LSU as chief technology officer. This year, Dr. Ronald Andrews, a physician who owns Pediatric and Internal Medicine Associates in Baton Rouge, joined the company as its medical director.
Vasanji, the CEO of Relief Telemed, has experience in the health care industry. He is the co-founder of Patient Plus Urgent Care, which has several clinics across the city.
Vasanji said that while telemedicine is not a new concept, the technology to deliver it has come a long way and there's patient demand for it but providers have not yet adopted the technology. Initially, the startup, which is leasing office space inside the Louisiana Technology Park on Florida Boulevard, used its own health care provider network to connect patients with doctors and nurses but decided to change its strategy.
“We quickly realized that people would rather see their own doctor or the urgent care they always go to,” Vasanji said.
Relief Telemed's mobile application connects patients with their choice of doctors who are in the initial pilot of the technology.
The startup enables patients to use health insurance to pay for the telemedicine visits for physicians in-network and it processes those insurance claims for doctors as part of its service. It is being used in about half a dozen clinics in Baton Rouge in addition to a few in Alexandria and expects to double its network in the next two months.
“We just signed a deal with a health plan to go national,” Vasanji said, but the name of the company is not being disclosed yet. One challenge about taking the telemedicine software to a national market is that each state has its own laws but there is some standardization. The goal is to compete nationwide.
“Our vision is that we want to replicate the clinic in a virtual environment,” he said. “With telemedicine, there’s only so much you can do with video, though; you can’t run blood tests because you still have to use a lab.”
So patients would still stop by a clinic to get lab work done after visiting with a doctor online. The startup has plans to sell its software to some clinics and individual doctors to use directly or to rebrand for their own use. It is also reaching out to employers about telemedicine to serve far-flung employees working on remote sites.