KeyCare, a Chicago and Madison-based startup, is seeking to solve healthcare’s access problem by proving that the country doesn’t have a shortage of physicians, but rather “a shortage of using them efficiently,” according to founder and CEO Lyle Berkowitz.
The country’s only virtual-first care platform built with Epic, KeyCare was founded in 2021. The startup acts as a virtual care marketplace connecting health systems with virtual care groups working on its Epic-based platform. Berkowitz said he launched the company to help health systems provide patients with more consistent experiences using bi-directional data sharing.
“The problem we identified is that health systems want and need to offer more virtual care services, but their internal providers are overwhelmed, and their options for partners are limited to third party vendors who use poorly integrated technologies,” Berkowitz said. “The result is that either they cannot meet the patient demand for care or they send patients to a discontinuous experience where data is not shared.”
On KeyCare’s platform, patients can book an appointment with a virtual care clinician, which the company refers to as its “virtualists,” via their health system’s MyChart portal. These virtualists get access to patients’ comprehensive health records and document the visits in Epic. Upon completion of an appointment, patients’ information flows back to their health system.
The most common initial use case for KeyCare is to provide virtual urgent care access that is available 24/7 across all 50 states, according to Berkowitz.
“Many health systems are asking us to immediately provide the national service that they cannot do themselves due to licensure issue, and then to also cover the evening shifts as it is prohibitively difficult or expensive for them to do it themselves,” he said.
Berkowitz added that many health systems are also recognizing that it often makes sense to focus their staff on complex care that must get done in-person and partner with other companies for more routine care than can be virtualized.
KeyCare’s customers are Epic-based health systems looking to expand their virtual care breadth and scope, with one being Michigan-based Spectrum Health. The startup earns its money from a mix of health system fees and visit-based revenue.
While other virtual-first care platforms exist, such as Teladoc, Babylon Health and Omada Health, KeyCare is the only one built on Epic’s EHR — and Epic has the largest share of EHR deployments in the marketplace. This gives the company two advantages, according to Berkowitz.
“First, this means we have a full-stack, meaningful use certified EHR that can be optimized for a wide range of virtual care scenarios, including primary care, specialty care and remote patient monitoring,” he said. “Second, Epic has incredible interoperability functionality that allows us to share patient data and appointment scheduling between our Epic instance and those of our health system partners.”
These advantages also benefit patients, Berkowitz added. For example, patients get to stay on the Epic system throughout their visit without having to create a new username nor enter their past medical history.
To keep up with the demand for virtual care services from large health systems, KeyCare will use its Series A funding to expand its team, go live at more health systems and partner with more virtual care groups. It will also eventually extend its services to full primary care support and various specialty areas — it only offers urgent care and behavioral health care at the moment.
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