June 26th, 2019

Call 9, one of the major players in the world of nursing home telemedicine, just announced its closing, laying off almost all of its 100 employees as of this week.

Call 9 was founded in 2015 with a vision of implementing a model for providing care to residents in long term care facilities and nursing homes.  Call 9 trained paramedics in basic bedside procedures – to assist the on site staff – and had an on call physician available to speak with the bedside team in the event that management queries arose.  In theory this model provided optimal synergy between lower level providers who could manage more basic issues, with a well trained practitioner who could assist with more complex decisions.  Moreover, Call9 developed a broad array of support software, including decision making support technology, predictive analytics to provide early warnings/alerts, and mobile and web applications for patients, administrators and physicians.

Call9 had raised significant capital including $10 million in 2016 and $24 million in 2017.

Why did Call 9 fail after so much hype and capital investment? Presumably the explanation is multi-factorial, but likely due, in a large part, to the inability to generate reimbursements from payers for telemedicine visits.  All of the costs of the program had to be funded out of the pocket of the client, and, with rising costs, lower reimbursements and suffocating regulation in the long term care facility market, owners were reluctant to shoulder this burden.

At MO/MSMD we have faced similar challenges as we sought to develop telemedicine programs at long term care facilities; how to provide remote, quality and cost-efficient care, recognizing that none of the services will be reimbursed by insurance.

Sadly, it appears that the slow adaptation of insurance reimbursement claims another casualty, and yet another good company with an innovative platform and forward seeking perspective has been forced to close.