Every now and then I encounter an entrepreneur that really gets something everyone else simply cannot see, and can articulate that unique vision for a future radically unlike anything previously imagined.
Last night I happened upon a series of blog posts by the co-founders of physician social network Sermo (@sermo), Daniel Palestrant MD (@dpalestrant) and Adam Sharp MD, on the blog of their new startup Par8o (@par8o) that captivated my attention and imagination in ways few, if any, other digital health entrepreneur has to date.
Just last week Xconomy reported a story broken by Pharmalot that Sermo’s founder was leaving to spin off a new venture which would resemble a physician-patient matchmaking service that aims to disrupt the physician referral ecosystem and had heretofore been an internal experiment. Once the determination was made by the Pra80 project leadership and the Sermo management and board of directors that the new venture would not compete with the company’s core business and would in fact be a welcome compliment as an independent sister company, the physician entrepreneurs wasted no time issuing their manifesto.
Xconomy quotes Palestrant touching briefly on the economics behind his new business and the opportunity to use social networking principles learned after years spent pouring his “blood and tears” into his “baby” Sermo and growing the physician social network to 130,000 members.
The core vision behind Palestrant’s pitch for Par8o centers around solving issues with non-compliance in the referral process for whatever reason, which leads to significant numbers of basic referrals never even contacting the specialist to whom they were referred. For instance, often times a general practitioner sees a new health problem in a patient and needs to bring in a specialist to tackle the problem head-on–which should work fine in theory. According to Palestrant, though, 20-40 percent of patient referrals never actually result in that patient making or attending an appointment or hand off to a new doctor.
“The patient never goes to the critical step in treatment process and falls through the cracks,” he said. “That’s where Par8o comes in. The company hopes to use software to provide a “universal, very simple mechanism for healthcare providers to refer patients to one another”.
“Not only can we make sure that the referral occurs, but doctors in all parties involved can track and manage that process,” he continued. “They can make sure the appointment actually occurred. We’re then able to allow the healthcare system to start introducing the Pareto efficiencies. In this case the specific challenge is what healthcare provider is best suited to address this [patient’s problem].”
Over the last few days we were treated to a taste of the vision behind Par8o on a company blog as the co-founders took turns introducing their new vision for disrupting social medicine. These mini manifestos are among the best startup launch press releases I have seen in the digital health space, and speak to the power of the blog as the central PR tool for entrepreneurs, as does the dozen or more comments from other physicians on each post.
My favorite of the blog’s first series of posts is one in which the founder romantically alludes to the lessons we should take from Vilfred Pareto, the man who inspired the company’s unique name. Vilfred Pareto, was something of a 19th century renaissance man who is widely credited with elevating the practice of economics away from the moral philosophical essays of the Adam Smith era and into a new era of data-driven markets and economic systems which persists (be it mostly on life support) today.
Par8o has been heavily testing and validating its software and we can expect to see it released in the next few months, along with news regarding several potential options the company is considering on the funding front.