Health IT, Startups

Doctor.com acquires ReferBright for tech to fix referral leakage

Doctor.com CEO Andrei Zimiles said in an interview that ReferBright’s CTO David Murray now works as CTO for Doctor.com.

imagePhysician practice support startup Doctor.com has acquired ReferBright, which develops software to help physicians improve referrals in part by improving their visibility online to attract more patients to their practices. It is part of a growing trend of consolidation among health IT businesses, including startups, as companies with overlapping goals see a merger as the best way to move forward.

ReferBright, a portfolio company of Blueprint Health, works with physician practices on how to improve SEO to make it easier for patients to find them online.

In response to emailed questions, Doctor CEO Andrei Zimiles, he said it has already used technology from ReferBright to launch a product to give healthcare providers an easier way to update their online listings on websites such as Vitals.com, US News & World Report Health, Healthgrades and local listings on search engines such as Google, Yelp, and Bing. It refers to it as ProfileSync.

One goal of the service is to limit referral leakage when a patient goes online to research a doctor they’re referred to and come up short on information which can lead them to get care from another doctor. That’s a challenge larger providers and payers face as well, so the market need is significant.

Have you developed any insights on how patients are finding doctors?

According to our own network statistics, more than a third of doctor searches are now happening on mobile devices rather than desktop, and this trend is growing every year. We are also seeing that data-rich physician profiles (with a photo and bio) are clicked on 3x more frequently than those that have only basic contact information. Even more significant — profiles with three or more patient reviews are clicked on 5x as much as those with no reviews. This isn’t surprising when you consider that recent surveys such as this one are finding that somewhere between 40 and 70 percent of people will now research a doctor online before booking their appointment, even in cases where they have been referred directly to the doctor.

How are your partners responding to the deal?

Our partners are already benefiting from the deal as the technology and talent acquired from ReferBright has resulted in improvements to our data syndication platform to which they are all connected.

Will this deal add practices to your business? Will it expand your geographic footprint substantially?

For Doctor.com the deal was about technology and talent. We had a chance to see ReferBright’s technology before it was formally rolled out to the market and were very impressed. David Murray, ReferBright’s CTO (who is now our CTO), also had the ideal blend of domain expertise and impressive engineering and product experience to lead our technology organization.

We are already strong in the US with thousands of clients across the country, and we are also seeing an increasing level of interest from providers in other countries. At some point it’s very likely that we will expand globally, likely starting with Canada. For now, we’re focused on growing our domestic business, delivering innovative, provider-facing solutions to the US market.

Do you think there are other areas in which you might expand by acquisition?

We were very fortunate with ReferBright; both the people and the technology were a perfect fit, and the timing was ideal. If we feel similarly confident about another such opportunity, we have the ability to move quickly to make a deal happen. With that said, right now we are also focusing on strategic alliances with other organizations that serve providers. There are many areas where our technology and network reach can enable breakthrough benefits or efficiencies.

Photo: Flickr user chase_elliott