Though the concept of telehealth became wildly popular amid the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual health services have been around for years to give patients easy access to their healthcare providers online.

While these services are available to all, patients in Black and communities of color still struggle to get the proper medical care they need without leaving their homes.

According to a study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association last year, their data showed that Black people were more likely to self-report telehealth use in response to the pandemic than white people. However, the systemic racism that exists within the healthcare system still makes it difficult for Black and people of color to acquire telehealth tools.

This issue is partly what motivated the creation of Certintell — a care management company that enables safety-net providers to make a lasting impact on the health of underserved patients through telehealth.

As the only solo-founded Black remote medical practice company, Certintell is dedicated to catering to people in Black and brown communities who find themselves searching for virtual solutions to their medical problems.

Founder Benjamin Lefever was inspired to start his company after pursuing a corporate career in medical sales. After graduating from Drake University, he got the opportunity to help implement a telemedicine program called Project ECHO.

This program is what helped him realize the gap between Black and brown patients and the treatments they weren’t receiving, so he set out to establish a telehealth solution specifically designed to meet their needs.

“I really saw the power of technology connecting providers at that time, but knew eventually there was going to be a lot more growth and interest in direct provider-to-patient care,” Lefever tells AfroTech, “particularly in our most vulnerable communities that get left out, can’t make it to an in-person appointment or just aren’t comfortable getting the treatment.”

The other part of Certintell’s origin story lies in Lefever’s personal connection to the healthcare system in which there were issues with his siblings receiving adequate access to healthcare.

“You know my background with my sister who has a disability and brother that’s a veteran who have [both] struggled with access to [proper services],” he shares. “Knowing that and then getting into healthcare and seeing a lot of those issues continuously compounded of who kind of gets left out helped give me the [big idea].”

Certintell was founded with a simple mission to get telehealth technology in the hands of people from underserved communities and connect them to their healthcare providers. Its virtual medical services existed long before the pandemic struck and they only grew in popularity over the last year among people seeking less in-person interactions at hospitals and doctor’s offices.

With states opening back up and COVID-19 restrictions lifting, people are attempting to navigate their old normal and return to in-person health visits. But that’s not slowing down business for Certintell, in fact, the company is shifting its focus to “telehealth 2.0” to engage with more patients who suffer from chronic health conditions. The new goal for the company is to help these patients better prioritize healthy living.

Lefever is confident that his company is doing groundbreaking work for Black and brown communities across the country, as Certintell continues to work on expansion plans beyond the nearly 30 states it currently serves.

Moving forward, the telehealth founder hopes his story and company will make room for more Black and brown people to pursue this advancing career field.

“How I’m paving the way is by showing what success looks like and having an impact on the quality of life of communities and patients that [Certintell] serves,” he says. “The best way that I can continue to pave the way is to show value in influencing these patients’ lives so other folks can see that not only is this important, but there’s also a business opportunity behind it.”

For more information about Certintell, visit its website.