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Telehealth provider ushers in new era with rebranding

Brian Hartz

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Ascellus CEO Lori Daugherty. Photo courtesy of Karrie Porter Bond.

IMCS Group, a St. Petersburg company that specializes in mental health treatment for workers who’ve been injured on the job, has rebranded as Ascellus as it expands its offerings in the fast-growing telehealth market.

The makeover comes on the heels of the company’s nationwide rollout of Covid Rebound, a telehealth service designed to treat stress, anxiety, fear, guilt and other mental and emotional effects of Covid-19. Initially launched as a pilot program in December, Covid Rebound is now available via Ascellus’s network of 1,500 providers across the country, and it’s a covered service in many health insurance plans.

Covid Rebound proved so successful, Ascellus CEO Lori Daugherty told the Catalyst, that the company is now working on a similar program that will target people suffering the after-effects of concussions. It also gave rise to Ascellus Connect, a new platform that delivers a full suite of cognitive behavioral therapy programs delivered via video call by clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and licensed clinical social workers.

Ascellus Connect “will give our clinicians better access to the medical data for injured workers,” Daugherty said. “At their fingertips, our clinicians will have access to a whole book of business — clients that have been referred to our services. It’s really about connecting the data points for everybody. Components of the clinician portal have been pushed out, and I would say the client portal will be ready this fall.”

Data was a big driver of the rebranding effort, Daugherty said, explaining that IMCS Group — which traditionally facilitated face-to-face, in-person interactions between clinicians and patients — had essentially become a tech company as the pandemic wore on.

“As the company has grown, we’ve become very outcome-focused,” she said. “Data collection is really important to us — being able to show our outcomes in the marketplace that we serve and show the effectiveness of the program.”

Daugherty described IMCS Group’s rapid shift to telehealth “an inflection point … we were becoming a technology-enabled company, and Ascellus Connect is technology that allows the company to move forward.”

However, Daugherty said, there were less complex reasons for renaming and rebranding the company, which now has 65 full-time employees in addition to its large network of contractors.

“Honestly, I can’t tell you how many times I had to explain IMCS to folks,” she said. “The acronym was just very difficult. We needed something that was clean, crisp and allowed folks to better visualize who we are.”

Ascellus, Daugherty explained, is a mashup of the words ascend, excel and us.

“‘Ascend,’” she said, “we’re framing that around how we rise above conventional treatment and focus on cognitive behavioral therapy. And ‘excel,’ we’re framing that around our evidence-based outcomes and how we can prove the product works. And ‘us,’ it’s you and I, our clients, our injured workers — the whole care management team coming together to ensure that the injured worker has everything they need to successfully return to work.”

According to Ascellus, 92 percent of patients who use its telehealth services are able to return to work after an average of five sessions, and 93 percent of discharged patients achieved clinically meaningful reductions in anxiety and stress. In addition to bringing on more staff to meet demand, the company has also augmented its executive leadership team, hiring Nick Cammarata as senior vice president of operations and Jim Harvey as senior vice president of national account management and strategy. Daugherty said she’s in the process of hiring a COO and expects to make a hiring announcement for that position very soon.

“The team is coming together,” she said. “It’s a well-rounded team, and we’re having fun growing the organization and creating new products.”

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