Hospitals, Startups

Bright.MD CEO: Patients are being forced to choose between trust and convenience

BrightMD CEO Ray Constantini takes a dim view of companies that use pools of physicians to support online and retail businesses where patients get whoever happens ti be on duty when they need a physician.

One of the underlying tensions behind digital health is the debate between whether or not people care whether they are treated by a doctor they know or whoever happens to be available either in a retail clinic or online or in the neighborhood, in the case of in person home visits from concierge care services.

At Health 2.0 this week, Bright.MD CEO and co-founder Dr. Ray Costantini offered a demo of its SmartExam platform. It functions like a physician assistant for the highest volume conditions coming through primary care practices. There were 1 billion physician visits in 2010 and a cough was the most frequent reason why people went to see their primary care doctor, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control.

Its rationale for offering this service is that by using the service for non emergency care, physician practices can spend more time on, say, patients with chronic conditions or more complex conditions and help make their practices more manageable.

The platform guides users through a series of questions and uses machine learning as it processes their information to create a diagnosis and recommended treatment. It is designed to be an automated care delivery tool.

It has a patient and physician interface. Patients can use it to connect to their own primary care providers through their computer or mobile device to receive evidence-based guidance at a reduced cost compared with an in-person visit. The idea is that physicians follow-up with patients by phone.

“Patients want to get care from home,” Costantini said. They can also send images taken with a camera phone that can be factored into the treatment recommendations. Ease of use is huge so when patients are asked things like the kind of medication they are on, it will offer suggestions to avoid misspellings.

One of the things that gets Costantini fired up is the subject of the direct-to-consumer vs a business-to-business-to-consumer model. He takes a dim view of companies that use pools of physicians to support online and retail businesses. He thinks going through providers is a better option.

“Patients are being forced to choose between trust and convenience. We don’t want patients to make those choices.We offer this service through providers they know,” Costantini  said. The doctor-patient relationship and its importance or non importance is the stuff of multiple surveys and reports although it is frequently self-serving, depending on the company or organization behind it.

It works with family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics practices and the size varies from 50-2,000 providers. Bright.MD was chosen this week for AVIA’s Virtual Access Cohort and is moving into other delivery systems. Costantini said it’s also considering moving into other areas to address things like lower back pain and urinary incontinence.


Photo: Bigstock Photo