We’ve noticed an increasing number of physicians turning to entrepreneurship to effect change in the health care system. Recently, we had the opportunity to speak with one such clinician, Dr. Kourosh Parsapour, about personalRN, a company he founded to improve patient education and reduce readmissions.
Shiv Gaglani, Medgadget: What is personalRN and how did you come up with the idea?
Dr. Kourosh Parsapour: personalRN’s mHealth apps are designed to provide disease-specific content personalized to the needs of patients & caregivers for enhanced education, coordinated care & reduced readmissions.
The idea for pRN came from my decade-long experience as an intensivist. Patients have heightened vulnerability when admitted to the hospital with a life-altering diagnosis (eg stroke, cancer, heart attack, etc.). The chaotic environments of an ER or ICU add further stress and confusion to patients and their loved ones. We (physicians & nurses) do our best to explain the pathology and rationale for treatment options; however, the rapidly growing patient volume limits the time necessary for adequate teaching and education. Changes in care-settings, handouts with overwhelming content, limited language skills & inadequate health literacy are additional comprehension barriers to learning complex discharge instructions. As a result, patients and their caregivers remained ill-informed on discharged and often “bounce-back” because of medication errors, non-compliance, or being unaware of the additional resources available for their condition.
Of the diagnostic-related groups (DRG) with significant rehospitalization rates, nearly 90% of preventable 30-day stroke readmissions are due to poorly coordinated inpatient education and discharge planning. Therefore, a participating hospital or health system can evaluate the efficacy of the StrokeApp by the immediate reduction of 30-day stroke readmissions. This metric will lend further support to scale our proprietary platform to deliver relevant content based on the specific disease and real-time care setting. Similar to Rosetta Stone’s innovative approach in teaching different languages through immersion, personalRN will provide patients & their loved ones the capability to achieve fluency in the language of their disease.
Medgadget: Can you describe the novel features of pRN?
Dr. Parsapour: pRN has developed a HIPAA-compliant, patient-facing mobile application to provide stroke-specific information to patients and caregivers relevant to their real-time care setting. The novel & patent-pending features of the pRN template include 1) customized education utilizing artificial intelligence algorithms that are determined by patient-specific data points which 2) require provider engagement and re-engagement from admission to discharge and subsequent outpatient care settings. This “prescriptive” app requires a licensed provider to enter the necessary clinical information (<90sec) onto a tablet pre-loaded with the StrokeApp, which in turn designates specified predictive pathways to provide information directed towards common questions and events surrounding the stroke. The tablet would then be made available to the patient or caregiver with an interactive, illustrated platform to provide simple and basic information that can expand in complexity based on the user’s age, cognitive impairments, health literacy, education level, comfort and pace.
The UX/UI design of our current and future apps focus on patients & caregivers, and we equally value the providers’ experience. Physicians and nurses recognize the value of digital health, but are slow to adopt technology solutions as many are seen as being obtrusive to the workflow of a busy ER because of impractical data dashboards or technology that has “feature-itis” and less utility.
Medgadget: What stage is the company in?
Dr. Parsapour: Our MVP is in final development for beta-testing in March with 4 Southern California hospitals/health systems which we’re in current discussions. We have also been approached by some of the major wireless carriers to discuss development and/or hardware partnerships.
We are currently in seed fundraising that is limited to $150K and offered to our professional network possessing a background in healthcare. The round began January 17, 2014 and we have been fortunate to achieved the $100/150K milestone this week. We anticipate that we’ll soon engage angel groups and VCs supporting early-stage startups to raise an additional $1M.
Medgadget: How does pRN compare to what already exists?
Dr. Parsapour: Our StrokeApp is designed to be a health coach, or a personal RN, that is accessible to a patient (or their loved one) after the diagnosis and critical stabilization of stroke. The logic that is central to the AI employs evidence-based practices that in turn provides customized information delivery specific to the patient’s stroke, immediate needs, and preparedness to receive education.
The functionality of the currently existing mobile solutions can be classified as 1) patient-focused apps with comprehensive information and resources for stroke survivors, 2) stroke-symptom identifier and stroke-center locator apps, 3) community awareness and education apps, and 4) provider-focused apps designed to calculate stroke severity scales and time to tPA therapy.
While many of the aforementioned apps provide some basic level of information, the “patient-centered” apps simply present an aggregated and comprehensive stack of stroke content, all of which is readily available on the Internet (i.e. WebMD, Wikipedia, etc.) and textbooks. These apps are no different than the stacks of printed handouts and pamphlets that are provided to a patient and/or their family with content to sift through. The pRN Stroke App is unique in that it provides “disease-specific” and customized information that is simplified and made available based on the users physical location and setting and adaptive throughout their continuum of care.
Medgadget: Are there any other areas you are looking at beyond stroke care?
Dr. Parsapour: As we grow, we’ll leverage the scalability of our platform & artificial intelligence employed in the StrokeApp to target other diagnoses, including heart attacks, heart failure, pneumonia, COPD, diabetes, high-risk pregnancies, etc. The pRN tablet along with our proprietary platform can be expanded as a distribution channel for partnering digital health solutions and could provide screening or monitoring of other conditions such as diabetes, hypertension or depression, as well as additional support to improve medication compliance, decrease medication errors, physical and cognitive rehabilitation, preventative health education, and social support systems for the patients and their families.
Medgadget: What is your background in medical technology/innovation?
Dr. Parsapour: I’ve always been very passionate about integrating innovative technologies as a means to expand the access to quality and affordable healthcare. I was fortunate to start my career at UC Davis, which provided the environment and mentorship for academic telemedicine research. I helped develop and expand the Pediatric Telemedicine Program under the University’s Center for Health & Technology and in turn became very involved with the American Telemedicine Association (ATA). I was the co-founder/co-Chair for both the ATAs’ Pediatric Telehealth Discussion Group and the Pediatric Telehealth Colloquium. Specialists On Call acquired my first startup Telepeds, one year after its inception. I subsequently obtained my Healthcare Executive MBA from UC Irvine and have since been involved with digital health startups including 5plus (Kinect-enabled software for range-of-motion assessment in physical therapy) and personalRN.My partner and cofounder Alex Sayyah, is a successful technology sales, marketing & operations executive, entrepreneur and investor who brings over 15years years of P&L management for leading technology companies. Alex has proven success in high-performance marketing and sales programs that drive lead-generation, revenue & brand awareness for startups and established Fortune 500 companies.