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Call9 CEO On What’s Preventing Telehealth Adoption

Timothy Peck, MD, cofounder and CEO of Call9, a telehealth company for patients in nursing homes, talked with us about the barriers to telehealth adoption, how being an MD prepared him to be a CEO and more.

There hasn’t been federal legislation changing telehealth since 2000, and there’s been five bills that have been passed this past year alone, which is a huge kind of tailwind building up for telemedicine. And what made that happen is bipartisan support. So in this very partisan world that we’re living in right now, especially with elections being 50-50 in some states right now, there’s bipartisan support for this, which is amazing. And so we’ve been advocating for something called the RUSH Act, which is the Reducing Unnecessary Senior Hospitalizations Act. And that was introduced with a very bipartisan support, liberals and conservatives on the same bill, introducing it. And that, hopefully, that will get passed soon.

Is this the bill that you testified in front of Congress for?

I did, it was an amazing experience. We were laughing about this before I got on the phone, actually, at this point I have met with 200 different representatives and senators and their staff and have had all these conversations with these people and advocated for our patients and for the RUSH Act. That’s been an amazing one-on-one experience, to really get to know people and what motivates them and why they joined politics and how they do want to help healthcare and the people it benefits. But when I was testifying before Congress, all of a sudden all the TV cameras are on me. This was not just one-on-one conversation, but 30 different Congressmen asking questions and fielding them, it became a moment of, “Wow, I’m really part of the legislative process right now. I’m really part of actually making changes to the law and to the constitution.” So it was a pretty incredible experience. It woke me up and said, “This is something that’s important, and one day you’ll be able to pass by any nursing home in the country, not just the nursing homes that we served, and say, ‘I did my part to make life better for those patients in those nursing homes.'”

Going from being a doctor, with your M.D. and obviously training for that, and doing residency, and having that experience, to running a business, two different skill sets there. Talk about that experience, going from being a doctor to running your own business.

I’m an emergency doctor and I think emergency medical doctors have some business acumen. You have to think fast and make real critical decisions under pressure. If you don’t make the decisions, patients can die or be hurt. And so you tend towards action rather than kind of passive thought, which is something that I think a business owner, especially a founder, a startup founder, needs to be inclined toward action. And so you learn a lot about that.

You also learn about team building and team dynamics and leading teams. Because medicine is not only what we think of it of a physician and a patient sitting in an exam room together, one-on-one, but especially in the emergency department. It’s a huge team that you’re working with, 20 people, that you’re orchestrating the care of multiple patients at the same time. It’s more of a management job than an individual contributor job, which prepares you for running a company quite well.

What advice do you have to your fellow CEOs?

I think friends are important. Friends and family are extremely important. And that not only means making time for them, as well as making time for your business, but don’t be afraid to bring them closer to your business and to your issues and the problems that you’re trying to solve and face, and ask for their help both intellectually and emotionally. And I think that has been a large part of my success is asking friends and family for their help when I need that, and being vulnerable.

Read more: Using Tech To Tackle The Opioid Epidemic, Healthcare Costs


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