Nephrologists raising $1M to roll out secure text messaging service for patients with chronic conditions

A pair of kidney doctors who are also brothers have launched a mobile health app to make it easier for patients with chronic conditions to communicate with their doctors in a HIPAA-compliant format. The idea is to help physicians offer quick guidance to patients on whether or not they need to see a doctor or […]

A pair of kidney doctors who are also brothers have launched a mobile health app to make it easier for patients with chronic conditions to communicate with their doctors in a HIPAA-compliant format. The idea is to help physicians offer quick guidance to patients on whether or not they need to see a doctor or whether their problem can be resolved from home. The company’s name is also its address — IMYourDoc.com. Fahim Rahim, MD and Naeem Rahim, MD are seeking to raise $1 million, according to a Form D filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

In a phone interview with COO Dana Allison, she explained that the company had raised about 50 percent of its target for the seed round and had also banked $100,000, which is reflected in the Form D document. The investors are associates of the founders of the Seattle-based company — Fahim Rahim and Naeem Rahim. They developed the secure text messaging platform more than a year and a half ago and it’ recently emerged from beta testing. The funding will be used to support the national roll out of the mobile platform.

Allison said the app is aimed at patients with chronic conditions who tend to use the healthcare system a lot. The idea is to reduce the need to visit the emergency room by addressing patient queries by text message for things like symptoms and medication side effects. The IM in the company’s name stands for instant messaging. She added that the company also has a patient portal on which patients can send and receive information to and from their doctors.  Allison observed that the Rahim brothers’ impetus for starting the company was based on what they noticed among their own patients.

“As physicians, they saw the need for less disruptive communication because they have a high usage patient population with chronic kidney condition [concerns],” she said. “The beauty of mobile technology is it’s really a value proposition for healthcare.”

There’s a huge growth of healthcare accelerators, partly because many have demonstrated that they can put entrepreneurs in the same room as the health systems or doctors they hope will use their device or at least provide insights on how to refine their technology so that it will be of value to them. In contrast, ImYourDoc was started by a couple of practicing physicians familiar with a problem they and their colleagues faced. Does that make them any better positioned than a healthcare accelerator company?

“Certainly accelerators and physician and [nurse-led] companies are important,” said Allison. “Healthcare providers can often see the problems and know how to fix them, but they’re not developers.”

Although these instant messaging sessions are supposed to be answered by physicians in less than an hour, patients aren’t charged for the session if doctors miss that window, according to the company’s website.  Allison said the app is being used by a few institutions but could only disclose one — Bingham Memorial Hospital in Blackfoot, Idaho.

I doubt this app would appeal to risk-averse physicians, who would likely be so concerned about attracting a malpractice suit if a quick text message exchange with a patient resulted in a deterioration of the patients’ condition. It will be interesting to see whether those kinds of fears impact not just this app but other healthcare companies with overlapping ambitions. Or if those fears are overblown.