Hospitals, and physicians themselves, are trying new ways to bridge the gap. Some physicians have blogs; hospitals maintain Facebook pages and YouTube channels; and now a new website has been created that allow patients, for a small charge, to get doctors to review their specific cases.
But no one appears to be doing what one Minnesota health startup has dreamed up .
Clear.MD, which had an official beta launch Monday, has created a technology platform by which doctors can create 30 sec to one-minute long videos about various health topics. The videos are then enhanced visually and uploaded on to Clear.MD’s site. Now users seeking to understand a condition better, for instance know how long the recovery period is after hip surgery, can type in questions into the search box in Clear.MD’s website. Based on their location, the site serves up videos where physicians in their area address that topic.
It’s all about making “meaningful connections” that empowers both patients and physicians, explains Clear.MD founder and CEO John Brownlee in Minneapolis. And a paid beta customer of Clear.MD, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, couldn’t agree more.
Video content, from a knowledgeable source is lacking in the healthcare space. Yes, there is YouTube acknowledges Brownlee but there is no way to confirm identities there.
The big difference between us and YouTube is that anyone can go on YouTube and make videos and pretend they are a doctor. There’s really nothing about YouTube that helps you as a consumer to vet the difference between good content and bad content. It’s not a healthcare site. Providers can register with our site but it’s by invitation only… We vet them, credential them and then invite them to the site.
Fair enough. But WebMD has tons of good quality healthcare information. Brownlee has a response for that as well.
The big difference with WebMD is of course ours is all video content. We all love WebMD and we all use it. But it is syndicated content from a national expert. Going online to a health information site and seeing what some syndicated celebrity doctor thinks on that topic is good. What’s better is knowing exactly my doctor thinks.
So how is Clear.MD able to provide patients with video content from local providers?
By tapping into a computer’s IP address or location-based information available on mobile devices like the iPhone and the iPad.
The benefit to patients is multi-pronged. For one, without even registering on the site, they can simply search for video content and see multiple providers addressing similar topics. Viewing a video would presumably give them a feel for the physicians and decide whether they want to make an appointment with them.
Further, if physicians (or the hospital they are attached to) buy a premium subscription from Clear.MD, they can create what the company calls a vidscription (a mash up video and prescription). Through that doctors can instruct patients on what they need to do on the day of their surgery or what medications they need to take following a discharge.
In other words, these vidscriptions become a way for a patient to have clear understanding of what needs to be done without trying to rely on memory or printed documents.
“(Say) you are parents of a child who has undergone surgery and someone is educating you on how to give them medication. You get home and you are so stressed you haven’t even heard a word of what that person said. … But these videos can be emailed. You are sending them home with the provider. We love that kind of patient engagement,” Brownlee said.
In effect the video content is “unlocking the expertise” of physicians housed inside the hospital or a clinic, Brownlee explains.
This clearly empowers patients but how does Clear.MD benefit healthcare providers?
“We think that using short, concise video to educate and communicate will improve patient satisfaction,” said Jeffrey Weness, senior director of Corporate Development at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. “Consistent information, available outside of the hospital or clinical setting will mprove quality of service as well. Patients and their families will be better informed.”
Children’s has uploaded about a 1,00 videos so far with another 1,000 to be uploaded shortly. The hospital is redesigning its website and the new site will contain Clear.MD videos embedded throughout the site. And in a few weeks, Children’s will test the vidscriptions model in its surgery center, Weness said.
In general, Clear.MD also appears to be an inexpensive way for healthcare providers to extend their brand, improve work flow and acquire new patients too. Brownlee said that the initial kit that physicians use to take the videos cost between $200 and $300 a piece and the premium subscription model gives them the ability to add links, access search data and create vidscriptions.
The challenge of course is getting to critical mass or to have enough video content on the site from multiple providers globally. So far the startup has about 50 customers, majority of whom are based in the U.S. Clear.MD, which was founded late 2011, currently has six employees and is seeking less than $1 million to ramp up.
So, what will define success?
“When people think of video in healthcare, we want them to think less about YouTube and more of Clear.MD,” Brownlee said. “Everybody’s website has Facebook and Twitter icons, YouTube icon. Our icon is starting now to sit beside them. That’s where we want to be.”