Poised beneath the airy, vaulted ceilings at the former Dutchess Golf Club, an inspirational message adorns a meeting room white board: “In this office, nothing is impossible.”
Challenging the limits of what is possible has been a guiding principle of Anthony J. Bacchi, MD, whose fast-growing, state and federally-funded healthcare technology company, TeliStat, is headquartered at the club.
Leveraging quickly evolving technologies, TeliStat was initially conceived to help improve the quality of care for older adults at skilled nursing facilities. By enabling the remote monitoring of patients’ biometric data, this award-winning platform is showing the potential to reduce hospital readmissions, shorten hospital stays, and transform the delivery of home care. In short, Dr. Bacchi and his team are on a mission “to change an antiquated healthcare delivery system … and change the world with a revolutionary technology-based solution for care at home.”
A Geriatric Care Epiphany
With 40 years of experience creating innovative healthcare programs, Dr. Bacchi was the Founder and Chairman of MagnaCare LLC, the third largest provider network in New York, covering 1.4 million patients. He retired, but soon became restless just “watching the grass grow” and invested in a group of New York nursing homes. “One day, I walked into a facility I owned and I thought ‘I would never want to be here. This is geriatric warehousing. This is not what I want to do.’”
“Your passion in life changes as you mature. Earlier on, it was more of a financial motivation. Now it’s about helping people. I love what I do. It has changed my world.”
Stopping the Revolving Door
Medicare spends $26 billion annually on hospital readmissions for nursing home residents — but $17 billion of these costs are considered avoidable. Seeing a substantial opportunity for improvement, Bacchi established TeliStat and its parent company ImagineMed, and masterminded a new delivery model — known as the Restorative Care Unit — for skilled nursing facilities.
The impressive results led to $9 million in combined state and federal funding, Dr. Bacchi and his team set out to build Restorative Care Units inside skilled nursing facilities in suburban, urban, and rural areas. Patients in the unit wear a small, non-invasive biometric device that sends real-time health data to medical staff. “Never before have we had the ability to remotely monitor heart rate, real-time telemetry, EKG, blood oxygen levels, cardiac output and vascular resistance,” says Dr. Bacchi.
Thanks to more specialized training and a higher nurse-to-patient ratio (1:6 vs. 1:30), nursing home staff are better equipped to quickly pick up subtle changes in a patient’s condition. If a change does occur, an on-site critical care physician is available for immediate consultation.
In a recent 13-month span, nine Restorative Care Units have been implemented across the state, and the results have been striking. The state-wide average re-hospitalization rate for nursing home populations is 20 percent. Among patients in the Restorative Care Units, their re-hospitalization rate has remained below 5 percent.
Dr. Bacchi leads a team meeting in the boardroom at TeliStat’s headquarters in Poughkeepsie.
The Future of Home Care
With the number of aging baby boomers set to skyrocket, TeliStat is likewise setting its sights on homecare. According to a recent Harvard study, there are currently 28 million Americans age 65 or older — and in 20 years, that number will more than triple to 79 million. “Who will take care of 79 million Americans?” asks Dr. Bacchi. The US could see a shortage of up to 120,000 physicians by 2030, impacting patient care across the nation, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
The confluence of shifting demographics and evolutionary technology led Dr. Bacchi and his team to collaborate with Marist College to accelerate their launch and develop a technology-based service called the Monitoring Intervention Center (MIC) onsite at TeliStat’s headquarters.
“We always have interest in helping entrepreneurial companies speed to market through the use of technology,” says Bill Thirsk, Vice President of Information Technology/CIO of Marist College. “TeliStat has the vision, capability, desire, and a very cool idea to improve the lives of seniors. We want to help him deliver the highest level of technology.”
How It Works
Expanding the Limits of Telemedicine
“The heart beats 100,000 times per day,” says Dr. Bacchi. “The company’s new wearable patch captures and transmits every beat in real time to physicians and clinicians within the MIC.”
According to Dr. Bacchi, MIC technology can turn any mobile device into a telemedicine device. “I want your TV to become a telemedicine device,” he adds. TeliStat can measure and transmit such metrics as a patient’s heart rhythm, respiratory rate, blood oxygenation, and alerts for fall detection.
With military-grade cybersecurity built in, the device is HIPAA compliant. It can interface with up to five healthcare professionals simultaneously; patients can now interact directly with a doctor or nurse in the comfort of their home. Ultimately, Dr. Bacchi envisions this device being purchased at a local drugstore and working in conjunction with a downloadable app: “This has never been done before.”
Users can simply tell the device, “I want to speak to a nurse,” and communication between patient and healthcare worker initiates within nanoseconds.
Dr. Bacchi is a presence in the Hudson Valley. In addition to the Dutchess Golf Club property, he owns The Lazy Swan Golf & Country Club Village in Saugerties.
“Quality is our first mantra.”
Now doctors can provide care more easily in rural settings. Equally important, the device can leverage predictive analytics to anticipate and resolve health issues before they occur. For example, a patient with congestive heart failure may demonstrate changes in respiratory rate, cardiac output, and body weight. The continuous monitoring of even subtle changes to these metrics can help predict a crisis up to 24 hours in advance.
This advanced monitoring technology can also revolutionize how atrial fibrillation (AFIB) and sleep apnea is monitored at home, without having to go to a sleep clinic. This efficient, real-time sharing of medical information also has huge public health implications, making it far easier and quicker to report outbreaks and clusters of the flu and other diseases, arming health officials to move more quickly and aggressively to isolate outbreaks.
Building Health and Wealth in the Region
Dr. Bacchi acknowledges his team of 26 employees, including clinical professionals and healthcare and insurance industry veterans “who have transformed my vision into reality.” And while Dr. Bacchi says that “smaller companies can be more disruptive,” TeliStat appears poised for growth. “We have a stake in the economy of the Hudson Valley and building [the] health and wealth of the region, to help build companies that are sustainable and can grow,” says Thirsk. “We believe TeliStat will grow quite fast, and that tends to have an exponential effect on the local economy. As they go national, this will create new income streams coming into the Hudson Valley. It’s a no-brainer.”