BTE: So it is almost like a Cliff Notes for each patient?
David LaBorde: Exactly. At the hospital where I was working during my residency we actually had to keep these patient lists outside of the patient’s EMR because it didn’t provide the capability to add this type of headline data. We were actually using a Microsoft Access database to maintain separate patient profiles and our hospitals were using Epic and Cerner, leading EMR providers, but they just hadn’t yet built out the patient list element because their customers are the CFO and CIO and not the physicians, who are the users of these systems.
These C-suite executives have a lot on their plates and it is not surprising that they might not appreciate the importance of these headlines to the physicians in the trenches; but the headlines are in many respects the foundation for safe patient care. The problem with using a solution like the Access database to manage this information is these databases are not networked without some complex set up like VPN and they are often maintained locally on one computer in one office at each facility. In our case, each of the Access databases were continuously being updated by doctors at the various facilities; so to have a master database you had to merge them all, but as soon as you did this, the master database was stale. The inability to sync these databases and remotely access them impaired our ability to best care for the patients.
So we needed to find a solution that was fully networked that could be used across all five facilities we were operating. The challenge was rolling up all the information collected at each of the five facilities quickly and easily into one location where it could be accessed by all. Patient lists are also how we manage sign out, which is essentially the handoff of a patient from one practitioner to another including the transfer of all the information associated with that patient.
Say for instance you are a physician coming to take over my patients at the end of my shift and you need to get all of the information available to that point so you can step in and care for that individual without missing a beat, currently there isn’t a very good solution for this scenario. This is actually increasingly commonplace today because of duty hour restrictions, particularly in academic medical centers and there are huge opportunities for medical errors to be introduced. There are many organizations supporting the effort to make these transitions structured, and one element of that is having a written record of it, and not just a handwritten record, which is a another thing our solution offers.
I have to maintain a record of all of the surgeries I did in order to demonstrate I have done enough to graduate, that is essentially my transcript, and I need to keep that record not only for myself but I also need to enter it into another system with a group called the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. So I need to document the information in the patient’s chart in the electronic medical record, I have to keep my own record and patient list, and then I need to keep it in another system for accreditation purposes.
The real painful thing is that all of the patient information is in the EMR, but I can’t get a report, it’s like nobody cares. Even if that system could deliver me a report, it can’t deliver it to a third party system, so the resident is still the manual go-between. In some places they even hire people to do this, which only adds costs to the whole system.
BTE: How do you think participating in HealthBox will impact your development as a company?
David LaBorde: We were very excited to be selected as a member of the first class here at HealthBox. One of the key advantages to being a part of Healthbox is the access to resources and the environment to take advantage of those resources and maintain focus. The primary resource they open up to us are the mentors, which is a huge group of venture capitalists, hospital executives, and other major decision makers who meet with us regularly and help us fine tune our ideas and products. We prefer to operate in this type of environment, with rapid feedback cycles and quick decision making, which has really allowed us to grow leaps and bounds beyond where we would be otherwise having been here a little over a month.
When we first arrived at HealthBox we focused on identifying the true business opportunity in our vision, so we really focused on building out our model and understanding how we can do a diagnostic for a physician to figure out why they should buy our product. If there was one thing I think that has changed about us since we have been here at HealthBox I would say it is our ability to put numbers in front of somebody that validate our business model. Now that we know we can deliver a compelling value proposition, we have been able to effectively change the language on our website to demonstrate that value to potential clients.
BTE: Do you have any clients yet?
David LaBorde: We went live with the website the first week in February and actually had a customer the first day. Our current clients are mainly small private practices. We are really targeting smaller practices because they are truly feeling the pain, and since they are smaller its unlikely anyone else is going after them, but they will truly feel the impact instantly on their business.