Drake Grad Creates the First Telehealth Company Catered to Serving Marginalized Groups

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DES MOINES, Iowa — During the pandemic, the telehealth industry has skyrocketed as people avoid going into hospitals. One Drake graduate has been ahead of the curve. 

After graduating from Drake University, Ben Lefever worked in the pharmaceutical industry and later for a company named Genentech. It was there where he learned the ins and outs of working with patients remotely and community health centers. These experiences also showed him the health inequity those in urban and rural areas face in the country. 

“Working with these underserved clinics, personal experience, and then seeing the power of getting patients access that they need, how it improves their health outcomes, was really the passionate foundation with why Certintell was started today,” Lefever said. 

Founded five years ago, Certinell is the first telehealth company that provides remote patient monitoring for marginalized groups. The company works to reduce the cost burden for the chronically ill and make sure there’s no upfront cost to health centers. 

The telehealth company offers preventative services, care management as well as a diabetes prevention program. 

Certinell also employs certified clinical health coaches that monitor real-time vitals, give specialized care, and work to create ongoing care coordination. Lefever said the ultimate goal is keeping patients out of the hospital and the E.R.  

“That’s a core foundation of what we do. Taking technology but tying it with staff that are culturally competent, that are passionate about serving the underserved and helping these patients that have been really left out previously. Not because health care entities don’t want to help, but they’re just spread thin,” Lefever said. 

Before the pandemic, Certinell served 1,000 patients. However, by the end of this summer that grew to 10,000 patients.

Lefever said the coronavirus was a wake-up call for the healthcare system about providing better access to services. 

“The pandemic highlighted health inequities and in show the result of engaging patients where they are making care accessible saves lives,” Lefever said. “So it’s really been an eye-opening experience and this is going to be part of how care is going to continue to be delivered in the future.”

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