A healthcare IT company is seeking to arm people with rare or complex diseases with efficient access to a second opinion to reduce medical errors.
Rajiv Mahale and JonMcEuen are first year MBA students in the Goergen Entrepreneurial Management program at Wharton Business School at University of Pennsylvania and the co-founders of AccessMD. The company was one of the winners of the Wharton Venture Award and won $10,000 to develop its business this summer. AccessMD includes a first year medical student among its ranks and makes the most of its access to the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania to get feedback for its concept.
“It’s been a great breeding ground to show how challenges have evolved over time and how to get kickstarted in this area,” said McEuen.
Mahale and McEuen said the company is targeting patients with rare and chronic diseases who would benefit from having another voice. It is seeking out physicians who are most likely to be up on the latest research across a list of disease areas it is continuing to develop.
McEuen, who has a PhD in Neuroscience, said: “One of the things that has been clear to me in academic research is it’s becoming increasingly challenging to keep up with clinical research that relates to complex cases and serious and rare diseases. We provide a conduit that faces two parties and facilitates the process for both.”
The challenge of having a pool of physicians whose contact with the patient would be limited to the confines of the Internet is finding target cases/diseases that don’t require physical interaction.
“The goal with AccessMD is to take the laborious effort of this process out of the hands of the patients and providers,” said Mahale. ” We want all the relevant information to be safely uploaded and ease the work of the provider.”
Mahale added: “We are in the process of having lots of fruitful conversations with physicians.”
Pediatrics leaps to the top of the list of areas where the co-founders feel the company could be most effective and where it feels the demand for the company’s services would be greatest. Oncology, endocrine disorders and hematologic disorders are other areas the company is investigating.
Mahale notes that the monetization component is still being worked out. Patients currently pay about $500 to $1,000 out-of-pocket to access second opinions from Cleveland Clinic and its partners, Mahale said. But if the company can find a way to convey this information more efficiently and timely, it could reduce the price of what could be lifesaving information.
“By scaling our services over a larger hospital base we hope to reduce this cost,” said Mahale. “There is also an opportunity to have the procedures covered by self insured employers down the road.”
Its biggest challenge in the engineering phase has been to develop a seamless system to get the interface right for patients, physicians and providers.
Initially the company plans to grow regionally and expand along the East Coast with the goal of expanding into a national network. It is hoping to have its initial network in place by end of the summer.