As many people unfortunately understand, debilitating illnesses and a need for quick, reliable healthcare often come with little previous warning. Patients of all ages are rushed to emergency rooms and nursing homes and, due to timeliness of treatment, are admitted under the vise of professionals with whom they likely lack a rapport. As a result, doctors, nurses and administrators often struggle to gather the necessary drug and health information from patients, which, given inaccurate or incomplete information, can make for grave consequences.
One of Boston’s newest health tech startups, PatientPing, plans to close this gap in coordination by sending real-time notifications to healthcare providers when their patients receive ER, hospital and post-acute care.
Jay Desai, CEO and founder of PatientPing, first noticed this lag in communication– and the window of opportunity it created – while working in Washington D.C. at the Center with Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. In particular, Desai contributed to research and strategy for the Pioneer Accountable Care Organization, a model poised to transform how we reimburse health care involving the assignment of a panel of patients to individual providers, who are to manage each patient’s health annually, for a flat insurance rate.
One of the issues that arose during his stint at Pioneer ACO was accounting for patients’ records across various providers.
Desai framed the challenge best in a comparison to car service:
“If you decide to send to your car to a different shop, the mechanic won’t necessarily know what services you’ve had done. There’s an information asymmetry between what you know and what the mechanic knows. You don’t necessarily know what that means and what you need, so you may get what you need or don’t need, and you’re not ultimately optimized for that care.”
Likewise, if if the patients decide to go to another hospital, the patient, assuming he or she lacks a background in medicine, may not know what treatments he or she has gone under at other hospitals, under the watch of other doctors. Add odd hours of accidents and shifting national insurance policies to the situation, and crucial patient care and treatment history information often gets tied up in the process, potentially leaving the new providers to fly blind.
The startup seeks to clarify the process through its cardinal big data and messaging platform.
When hospitals and nursing homes enter a patient’s information upon admittance, that personal data is then matched against the thousands of patients that are already currently in PatientPing’s system.
Alerts are then sent in real-time automation to doctors, nurses and administrators associated with the patient to make them aware that the she has entered a new facility.
“[The messages] are automatically sent via a web application like Gmail, telling providers which patient it is, what nursing home he or she is in, what time he or she showed up, and when they were last admitted or discharged,” explained Desai. “Eventually we’ll be able to route [the messages] to mobile phones, and to integrate it with all different kinds of systems.”
A mere four months have passed since he left his job in D.C. to work full-time on this project in Mass., and Desai has already signed deals and started a pilot program with 11 hospitals and 40 nursing homes within the greater Boston area.
Patient Ping’s platform went live around three weeks ago, and has been generating revenue for two.
In addition to Desai, two teammates are working part-time on the startup: Tom Brennan, who is currently completing a post-doc in physiology as a research engineer at MIT, and David Berkowicz, a licensed physician who has since left the field to pursue computer programming.
There’s no doubt that healthcare innovations are hot right now, particularly within Boston.
Desai said that the team has been courted by “a lot” of Boston-based VCs thus far, but is currently being backed by a few angels and is all set for funding in 2014.
“If we hit our growth projections in the New Year, we’ll be getting around five to ten more people, potentially,” noted Desai, on the startup’s future.
Considering that case is likely, PatientPing will be scoping out space of its own in the coming months, said the founder, likely near Kenmore Square. As of yet, however, the trio works out of coffee shops and holds Google Hangouts to stay connected.
Desai also shared that the company has plans to rapidly scale out to nursing homes around the state post-pilot:
We want to enable any and all healthcare facilities to be able to talk to one another. Whether a patient is in a home health agency or the ER or psych rehab facility or a detox clinic, we will be the tunnels that are laid between organizations, enabling them to talk to one another.