RIC SK, CEO, BitCare Technologies
COVID-19 was a wake-up call for all of us. The pandemic disrupted lives, livelihoods, communities, and businesses worldwide. It posed the biggest challenge to organizations all over the world, especially those operating in the healthcare sector. While health systems across the world were struggling to cope up with the deadly impact of the virus, some pioneering companies sprang into action to aid the healthcare industry in the war against the pandemic. They played a significant role in addressing the escalating public health issue by offering rapid and accurate testing, telemedicine, acute care clinic visits and other convenient healthcare services. In this edition of the Healthcare Insights Magazine, we bring into the spotlight one such eminent organization, BitCare, a healthcare services provider dedicated to offering COVID-19 (RT-PCR Lab and Rapid IgM/IgG Antibody test and PPE) services and AI-based precision health and wellness services through telemedicine and in person clinical evaluations and treatments and at-home DNA & Allergy testing.
BitCare began its journey in 2019 with a 96-page whitepaper on how to disrupt healthcare through Blockchain (decentralized, distributed ledger technology that records the provenance of a digital asset)& AI technology innovations. For almost a year, Ric S Kolluri, the founder of BitCare focused on talking to technologists, entrepreneurs, and healthcare leaders to harness the power of the new innovative technology to bring healthcare into the frictionless future. However, after a little over a year with an insight of a mentor, JR Thomas, the company changed its focus to genomics and launched a cutting edge technology platform & 14 flagship products in the following categories: Nutrigenomics, Pharmacogenomics, Neurogenomics, and cancer genomics in the fall of 2019.
Soaring To Great Heights from Humble Beginnings
The company started out with just 3 employees: Ric S Kolluri as the CEO, Jags Porandla as the COO & BJ Kolluri as the Director of Finance, and guidance from Dr. Jason Finkelstein Emmanuel Kolluri, and Kim Monte. Within a year, it grew into a leading company with 225 employees and contractors and with an increase in revenue up to 56,000%. In March 2020, when the country shut down due to the pandemic, people struggled to see doctors. Looking at the scenario, one day Ric’s wife asked— “Since BitCare provides DNA tests, can’t you offer COVID testing as well?” To this, Ric’s short answer was “Yes! But the question was “How”. It took another 3 months for Ric to find the answer to this question with many calls to the CDC, local city offices and health care provider offices, he knew he was getting closer to an answer. He faced many challenges as he tried to find staffing in the midst of a pandemic, PPE shortages, confirming clinical protocols, Choosing a EMR system, activating a patient portal, etc. Finally, after countless hours of research, Ric launched the first COVID testing location in June 2020 in a parking lot of a restaurant in Plano, TX. “We hired medical personnel, ordered PPE, and jumped right in – with limited health care patient services experience, Ric relied on his 20 years of Health IT background to help plan and execute his vision. Ric’s good friend and BitCare’s core team members Dr. Jason Finkelstein M.D. (CCO) and Jags Porandla (COO) were the backbone support to take this off the ground,” opines Ric.
Another critical challenge for Ric and his team was the lack of clarity on insurance reimbursements. There was a delay in payments which lasted over seven months. “We are in this to help people, especially those with no insurance. Once we put this pandemic is over, we would be proud to tell our kids and grandkids we made a difference in the world’s biggest once-in-a-lifetime pandemic” adds Ric.
Making Patient Journey Effortless and Fluid
Over the years, the company has pivoted from DNA testing and services to COVID testing services and now to Medical Clinics and Telemedicine services. It has launched its first medical center in an underserved state, Arkansas, in a small town called Hensley, where there was a great need to serve the community. The goal is to open 3-5 clinics in Texas, 1-3 in California, 1 additional clinic in Arkansas by early Q2 of 2022. Also, we have 23 exciting clinics in the pipeline to bring under our brand. BitCare’s goal is to launch 500 clinics (mostly Primary Care and Wellness and some Multi-Specialty Medical Centers) in the US in the next 5 years; and virtual care: acute care & mental health. With a heavy technology focus to streamline the patient experience.
Currently, it has implemented virtual care consultation services in three states: TX, CA, and AR with 24/7 interpreter services for over 100 languages. “Our goal is to launch it in all 50 states across the US by next summer. And expand our footprint of clinics for in-person visits in cities across the US. Customers like the ease and speed of our technology-infused healthcare offering,” affirms Ric.
Standing Tall During COVID-19
Sharing his view on the pandemic, Ric asserts, “The pandemic has transformed our lives. It was truly unfathomable and straight out of a movie experience – to go through in real life and to jump right into the middle of it to help people get tested without any prior medical or patient experience (even though we have been in the healthcare technology space for over 15 years). I’m so glad that the team believed in me and blindly jumped right into the pandemic to help patients/customers get tested and assure them that they will get through this.”
During the Pandemic, BitCare offered free testing, gave away 100,000+ masks to schools, safety, and hygiene kits for homeless people, made over 15,000 food donations at food drives, and donated funds for ventilators, and funds to charity organizations who are helping people through the pandemic. Today, it continues offering free testing at over 60 sites across many cities and vaccinations through its partner clinics.
Disrupting Healthcare for the Better
BitCare has evolved through the pandemic to serve the people who need medical help and support. The company always strives to make the healthcare experience simple and easier for people. It offers optimal DNA services, gut microbiome tests, allergy tests, wellness testing, and acute virtual care services with quick and easy booking and in-person board certified medical provider consultation with minimal waiting time, transparent fee structure, and without any membership fees.
Currently, it is focusing on launching clinics and expanding its acute and mental health telemedicine services. “Our goal is to launch virtual care across the US next year and expand to 500 clinics nationwide in the next 5 years, all with the heavy infusing of AI technology into the healthcare products & services and eventually implement Blockchain,” concludes Ric.