Equum Medical -
Dr. Corey Scurlock MD, MBA
Founder and CEO
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
CEOCFO: Dr. Scurlock, what was the idea when you started Equum and what is your vision for the company today?
Dr. Scurlock: When you think of Equum and how it was created and what it comes from, Equum is a take on the Latin word “aequum” for equality. We are trying to create quality for patients regardless of their geography. Every patient deserves the same level of access to care no matter if they live in an urban environment, rural or in-
Equum Medical is an acute care telehealth services company. We are laser-
Today, with our footprint increasing nationally and our service portfolio maturing across inpatient care we are on the right track to be the dominant acute care telehealth services company in the country.
CEOCFO: What are some of the challenges in providing remote care and what is better today than it might have been two or three years ago?
Dr. Scurlock: If you think of the telehealth landscape, particularly acute care telehealth inside the hospital, there have historically been four distinct phases. There was the pre-
Now as we are emerging out of COVID and the pandemic is ending, what I see hospitals doing is looking at their purchases from the COVID period and saying, "Those are great, but I want them to be more connected and more integrated." They want to know if they are truly getting a return on investment from what they purchased. They are also going back to their workflows and trying to re-
Where I see telehealth going in the next few years is this integrated state which will be the future in which hospitals streamline their vendors and look for multiservice vendors of choice who can help them whether it is in the ER, the ICU, the med-
CEOCFO: Do you see potential acquisitions in the future for Equum and is the industry looking to consolidate?
Dr. Scurlock: Right now, the acute-
Our mission is to get the right patient the right care in the right place at the right time. Acute-
CEOCFO: Would you give us a few examples of what can be picked up through equipment or people monitoring?
Dr. Scurlock: There are three pillars to telehealth: people, processes, and technology. The technology is important and must work, but we always position ourselves as technology agnostic. We can work with any hospital systems technology; they do not have to change it for us. A large part of that is our experience level in this space. Our C-
Secondly, clinical workforce shortages are impacting hospital care quality as evidenced by the Joint Commission Annual Findings Report. This effects every hospital area but is felt amongst nurses on the floor. Here is where both virtual nursing and virtual safety sitting can have a direction impact on patient quality, nurse burnout and safety, and family satisfaction. Patient admissions and discharge processes can be optimized now through telehealth, and quality concerns like patient falls can now be monitored continuously with strong results in ROI and patient value. There are all kinds of reductions in cost and benefits to the patients beyond that into the hospital system we can now realize through telehealth.
CEOCFO: Regarding the emergency room setting, how do you begin the process and how does it work?
Dr. Scurlock: Once the decision to admit has been made, typically by the ER physician and the primary care physician, there is telehealth technology that is placed right in front of the patient. It is a cart-
We can start seeing that patient and we will talk to the family and the patient and place orders directly in the EMR. We also write notes and do almost everything else that a physician would do if they were standing in the hospital. Telehealth has allowed for our teams to be available 24/7, and our clinical providers are not limited by geography so through the click of a button we can start seeing the patients rapidly. Providing immediate access to a specialist prevents those delays in care that can cause complications.
CEOCFO: Are hospitals serious about speeding up things in the emergency room?
Dr. Scurlock: The short answer is yes, and the reason is that hospitals are now struggling to be more efficient in an environment of rising patient acuity, reduced clinical workforce, and lower reimbursement. Workforce is what hospital executives are serious about; in fact, a 2023 survey conducted by The American College of Healthcare Executives surveying over 100 hospitals said the #1 concern keeping executives up at night now is manpower. For the previous twenty years that they had done the survey, it had always been financial, but manpower is the #1 concern today.
The reason manpower is the main concern is that there is a lack of staffing which causes congestion, and that congestion backs up into the ER. If you think about where we are as a country in the healthcare system, there was this period during COVID when routine care could not be done as easily. Screening exams were not done, and chronic diseases were not managed as well. In fact, acute MI (myocardial infarction) rates went up during the pandemic. That caused the accumulation of what we call a care debt.
As a country, we are now repaying that care debt which means the patients presenting to our hospital are more acute than they were before the pandemic because they had that two-
CEOCFO: What is involved in implementation?
Dr. Scurlock: Lets again reference the three pillars of telehealth which are people, process, and technology; when you implement telehealth there are two components. First there is the technical process design, which is where the IT teams are getting connected determining how we are getting everything hooked up and making sure that the cameras are working and information flows. Then maybe more importantly there is the clinical process design which is how the clinicians work together and communicate about patient care during and across shifts. That is where great telehealth programs differentiate themselves.
The key to success is not typically the technology-
We want to form a strong coalition to help guide this program and we want that coalition to come up with what a vision of success looks like for the program. After that, we want to not just communicate that vision out but we want to over-
CEOCFO: Would you tell us about the medical professionals who want to work in telehealth?
Dr. Scurlock: Just as COVID has changed the trajectory of telehealth adoption, it has also changed the trajectory of clinicians who want to work with telehealth. Pre-
We are at the point where telehealth is not going backward, it is only going to accelerate as we find new ways to do this.
CEOCFO: What surprised you from the start-
Dr. Scurlock: I am the product of a rural community. The hospital in my town closed when I was a teenager which meant that families had to travel two or three hours to get their care. That is why I came up with the idea of how I could contribute back to the US healthcare system. What surprised me is growing up in a rural area I thought patients would be dubious of telehealth and not like it. Now with 150 different implementations and hundreds of thousands of patients that have gone through it, never once have you heard a patient complain. They realize that they are getting access and convenience with telehealth and extra amounts of patient safety.
If you design it right, it is a win/win/win for the healthcare system, but the biggest thing is that patients get it more than anybody else. They understand this is the way of the future and if it is done the right way it can help them and their communities.
CEOCFO: What is ahead for Equum?
Dr. Scurlock: At Equum our solution offering is one that’s in tune with and anticipating where our hospital partners are moving next. Even in a short time, we have introduced new services which strengthen our ability to connect care in parallel to the bedside, from ED to discharge. One example of this is virtual nursing. We see virtual nursing as a huge growth vertical for us and a great thing for the healthcare system and hospitals in general. Having a virtual nursing solution that can unload and unburden the frontline nursing staff is critically important. As a country, we had a nursing shortage before COVID, it is just that no one was talking about it, but COVID and clinical burnout accelerated the prioritization with which we need to solve this gap. Beyond our services alone, opportunities exist to harness software to innovate in provider productivity and advance responsiveness to care needs through Artificial Intelligence.
CEOCFO: Why pay attention to Equum Medical? Why does the company standout?
Dr. Scurlock: Equum Medical is physician founded and physician operated, and its inpatient services portfolio is an example of how digitally enabled clinical workforces can support many of the present challenges hospitals face. With over 150 implementations, 12 years of experience, and a C-
Equum Medical | Dr. Corey Scurlock MD, MBA | Acute Care Telehealth | Tele ICU Companies | Virtual Nursing | Equum Medical -