The developer of a software platform that has brought substantial hospital readmission cuts to skilled nursing facilities now has a $10 million cash influx to expand its footprint.
Real Time Medical Systems raised that haul in a successful funding round involving multiple investors led by SunBridge Capital, Real Time founder and executive chairman Scott Rifkin told Skilled Nursing News.
The Baltimore Business Journal initially reported the funding round, which saw SunBridge and the other investors secure a minority stake in the company, Rifkin said.
The Linthicum Heights, Md.-based Real Time’s software serves as a kind of bridge between a nursing home’s electronic medical records (EMR) software and key clinical leaders, alerting them to subtle changes in a resident’s condition to potentially catch issues before they require a costly re-hospitalization.
Rifkin brings an operator’s perspective to the skilled nursing software business, having founded and run the Mid-Atlantic Health Care chain of 21 SNFs across Maryland and Pennsylvania from 2003 to 2017, when he sold the company to focus more on Real Time. The software company initially rolled out its platform in Mid-Atlantic’s buildings, which over time saw a decline in readmissions from 21% to 8%.
“If you create work for nursing staff, it’s not going to work. They’re not going to be able to do it,” he said. “We understood that workflow. We built it for our own facilities.”
Real Time’s footprint now includes 500 SNFs and 30 hospitals, for a total of about 60,000 covered residents. On average, skilled nursing facilities that have adopted the platform have seen 40% to 50% reductions in readmissions, according to Rifkin.
Rifkin noted that when monitoring resident status, many facilities rely on information from the Minimum Data Set (MDS), which can quickly become out of date as a vulnerable resident’s condition changes over time in the skilled nursing setting. His company’s platform allows various clinical stakeholders to observe subtle changes in a specific resident’s condition — for instance, swelling feet in a resident with a history of heart failure, or recurring stomach issues that could signal an infection — and take steps to cure the issue without having to send the resident back to the hospital.
“How do you intervene in the health care of a patient when the data you get is six weeks old?” Rifkin said. “I know which patient today needs to be treated for heart failure, for diabetes, for failure to eat and drink, and I feed that to the key staff in the building for a pretty minimal fee.”
Real Time typically charges between $500 to $800 per month for its services, with an additional discount for buildings that have an existing relationship with medical supply distributor Medline Industries, its current sales partner. But like many other software providers aimed at reducing readmissions, Real Time positions its product as a net cost saver over time, particularly as both hospitals and skilled nursing facilities face costly penalties for readmissions under new payment models and the SNF Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) program.
Growing tech investment
Real Time’s $10 million funding round marks the latest in a string of big-dollar investments in tech solutions for skilled nursing problems: Earlier this year, the Chicago-based telemedicine provider Third Eye Health raised $7 million from Generator Ventures, Senior Care Development CEO David Reis, and others; as of about a year ago, emergency telehealth provider Call9 had raised more than $34 million to expand its offerings.
The health care industry — and skilled nursing facilities in particular — have long lagged behind other spaces in terms of tech adoption, but these platforms have shown concrete promise for operators so far: In an era defined by the importance of solid data in forming partnerships and maximizing reimbursements, higher-tech solutions frequently have real-world positive outcomes.
Third Eye’s telehealth software, for instance, has helped SNFs cut readmission rates from about 20% to the low teens, according to its team, while Call9’s in-SNF emergency interventions prevented 70% of patients from going to the hospital for certain medical conditions over a nine-month span.
The need for data will only increase with the coming Patient-Driven Payment Model, Rifkin noted, as providers could potentially see significant reimbursement swings over the course of a resident’s stay. Under PDPM, Medicare payments will be more closely linked to the complexity of patients’ individual care needs, as determined by an initial five-day assessment.
However, providers will be required to perform an Interim Payment Assessment (IPA) if a resident’s condition changes substantially, thus altering his or her care plan and potentially shifting Medicare payment rates. As a result, detecting even small changes in a resident’s status could have an outsized effect on a SNF’s bottom line, and Rifkin said his company’s software will automatically check each building’s census for potential qualifying IPA events on a daily basis.
Going forward, Rifkin and his team plan to use the $10 million infusion to beef up its sales force and expand its reach to more SNFs across the country.
“We can use those dollars to expand the product, involve more skilled nursing centers, and continue to develop the software,” he said.