The coming changes brought on by the Affordable Care Act will require clinicians and hospitals to do a better job of managing the health of patients with chronic diseases. A recent tool called HealthCrew has launched in private beta to manage patients with diabetes and heart disease. We had the opportunity to speak with their co-founder, Sohan Japa MD, MBA, about the platform and how he believes it can help clinicians more effectively manage their patient populations.
Shiv Gaglani, Medgadget: What problem is HealthCrew solving?
Sohan Japa: Primary care is broken. Patients don’t get enough support for their chronic conditions, and physicians are forced to be robotic during their jam-packed day. HealthCrew is striving to fix this by bringing back a community approach to chronic disease.
We were inspired by two concepts: Blue Zones & Shared Medical Appointments. Blue zones are groups of people around the world that have very high life expectancy and low incidence of disease. And a Shared Medical Appointment is a format where a care provider sees multiple patients simultaneously. In both cases, researchers have found that patients have better health outcomes and higher levels of satisfaction since a close-knit group ensures healthy behaviors through accountability and support.
On the physician side, its about creating an efficient system for them to deliver quality care. Just as your cable company sets up FAQs and online support groups to reduce calls to their call center, HealthCrew enables physicians to curate content thats relevant for their patients. It also allows them to leverage the power of their superstar patients to help motivate and inspire the others. Ultimately, it allows physicians to do what they do best which is be an educator and mentor for their patients.
For patients, its about getting them continuous support between their 1-2 office visits per year. For doctors, its about enabling better care that is efficient and evidence-based. And lastly for hospitals/clinics, its about staying ahead of the reimbursement changes that will require them to focus on outcomes.
Medgadget: Can you describe the technology underlying your platform?
Japa: There are three key components to our platform. The first is a medical intake tool which is able to assess a patient’s health literacy and social/emotional capacity. The second component is a content engine that takes the results of the medical intake to tailor education and materials. For example, a patient who scored low on our empowerment scale will get materials to help raise their confidence and skill-set to tackle their condition. The last component of our platform is a peer-to-peer mentoring tool, which allows patients to confer securely with similar patients both online and offline.
Medgadget: Who will use your platform? How will you make it sustainable?
Japa: The platform is for patients and their care teams. Patients with chronic diseases will be our focus, and diabetes and heart disease will be our first markets. On the medical side, we recognize the shift to team-based care and are working with nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, etc to ensure that it doesn’t create more work for them.
We’re currently targeting Patient Centered Medical Homes (PCMH) as well as shared-risk programs for our initial rollout. Given the new emphasis on outcomes and patient satisfaction, hospitals and clinics will need a tool like HealthCrew to maximize reimbursement.
Medgadget: Are there any competitors in the space?
Japa: There are anonymous patient forums, wellness platforms, and education portals. We’re different since we’re a clinical tool focused on chronic disease. Since our end goal is behavior change for chronic disease patients, the tie-in to the physician team is important. Patients are more likely to follow something that’s coming from their own trusted doctor. In addition, it also allows the care to be more coordinated. Chronic disease such as diabetes has many moving parts, and having a central quarterback that knows you is important. Lastly, the ability to meet up in-person with other similar patients is a key driver for change.
Medgadget: What is your background in medicine/technology?
Japa: My co-founder, Bansi Shah, is a data scientist and full-stack developer out of Stanford. She’s previously worked at Lattice Engines and Hearsay Social, which are Sequoia-backed startups. She’s well versed in enterprise software and integration for highly regulated industries in insurance and finance.
My background is an MD/MBA from Stanford, and I’ve done tours at McKinsey and IDEO. So, I’ve seen healthcare from a lot of angles. More fundamentally, I see myself as a “builder”/engineer. After some time, my frustration with the design flaws of the hospital system and patient journey outweighed my drive to practice medicine and be a passive bystander of the system.