Entries Published On September, 2013
Meet this week’s featured startup, HIPPOmsg. I spoke with Rahul Shah, Co-Founder of HIPPOmsg and Associate Professor of Otolaryngology and Pediatrics at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington DC. At angelMD we are always excited to welcome a physician-founded startup to our network. Here’s what Dr. Shah has to say about his company.
angledMD: What is your company, in one sentence?
Dr Shah: A free secure messaging platform to efficiently and conveniently communicate patient information with colleagues and your own office using your desktop, iPad, or smartphone, without needing to know any back-lines, cellular numbers, or email addresses.
angledMD: What problem do you solve?
Dr Shah: First, texting protected health information is illegal; physicians and even answering services do this all the time! The DHHS is not condoning such and has levied significant fines for HIPAA violations. Physicians still text because they are awaiting a solution.
Secondly, providers spend on average fifteen minutes to find a colleague to communicate about a patient. When I see a patient in the office and I need to discuss the patient with the referring physician, I first need to find their back-line or office number. Once I do that and call them and go through their phone tree, I am put on hold while they are pulled out of a patient’s exam room. Once I have the physician on the line we literally spend about 30 seconds discussing the patient. Using HIPPOmsg, I can find the provider and send them a message and instantly and seamlessly provide information to the physician about their patient. Hence, we have increased efficiency, communication, and ultimately improved the outcomes of our patients.
angledMD: What was the genesis of the company?
Dr Shah: On Superbowl Sunday in 2012, the co-founders were chatting as buddies do (Alex was Rahul’s chief resident in ENT residency in Boston) when they simultaneously received text messages from their residents about patients. They both commented on how this was not secure and there had to be a better system. A thorough competitive analysis ensued and we both realized that we were on to something. We immediately contacted a HIPAA expert and retained him as our Security and Compliance Officer. The whole platform has been built in lockstep with the security expert. We went live in August 2012 and reached the critical 1000 user milestone in January of this year. We have over two thousand practices and providers using the platform, and based on their use we realized that there was a huge need for our service. In a couple of months we will be releasing a major version update which will be faster and sleeker, taking HIPPOmsg to the next level and allowing us to start monetizing the platform!
angelMD: What makes HIPPOmsg interesting to physicians from an investment perspective?
RS: Very rarely in our profession do we have the ability to invest in a company in which our daily habits can actually impact its success. Every day we communicate with our colleagues about mutual patients, referrals, consultations, etc. We answer pages and calls from hospitals, answering services, and staff. Imagine using HIPPOmsg to communicate this vital protected health information. Not only would it be much faster and more convenient, you would be driving growth in a company that you are invested in! We are both surgeons and built this platform to communicate with our offices; it was so successful that we scaled it up for a national roll-out.
The platform will always be free because in times of shrinking reimbursements, practices cannot afford to pay for expensive technology. However, we are confident in our ability to monetize the platform and have five revenue streams (two of which will produce revenue for FY2013)! Being physicians has allowed us to stay ahead of the competition – we know exactly what our colleagues need to make their practices more efficient. HIPPOmsg is one part of the solution. We have built the platform for speed and security, consciously avoiding bells and whistles which may sound and appear attractive but woefully slow down the platform.