Medigram Offers a Safe, Legal Alternative to Texting While Doctoring

5/29/12Follow @wroush

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healthcare actually works in a hospital: “It’s an entire team taking care of patients—a combination of physicians, nurses, case managers, and social workers. One of the main value-adds is that we’ve given people who don’t have the chance to talk to the doctors frequently the ability to get information.”

Chiu tells the story of a case manager using the software at Stanford. “She had four patients who needed to be discharged in one day to four different skilled nursing facilities,” he says. “She found out [through Medigram] that one of them had a fever. Because of that she knew immediately that this person was not going to be discharged, and as a result she was able to focus on the other three, which helped her pace her communications with the nursing facilities appropriately.”

Anything that helps teams communicate more effectively will ultimately be a financial boon—meaning hospitals should be happy to pay for Medigram’s services, Chiu reasons. “At Stanford one of the metrics they use is the notion of an ‘avoidable day’—a day when the patient stays in the hospital due to non-medical issues, either transportation or logistics or because there is no place for them to go. They are trying to lower this number, and they have a program to get nurses, case managers, and doctors to talk more so that avoidable days won’t occur because of poor communications. So our platform is an adjunct to what a lot of hospitals are already doing.”

Since finishing at StartX and Y Combinator—Medigram was one of an increasing number of startups participating in multiple accelerator programs—the company has finished raising a seed round, Chiu says. Doctors at more than 50 hospitals and physician groups have asked for access to the software. The startup has competition from larger companies, Chiu acknowledges, but he says Medigram has the advantage of infiltrating hospitals from below. “All of our competitors are going through the traditional enterprise sales approach, where they talk to the CIO or upper-level administration and implement their software over many, many months of negotiation,” he says. “Our strategy is to go directly to the end users”—including residents and medical students.

An added bonus to this approach: the startup gets immediate feedback that it can translate into product improvements, such as a feature that repeats a message every 10 to 30 minutes until the recipient actually sees it. “One of the only benefits of pagers is that they keep going until you shut them off,” Chiu says. “The worry with these high-tech platforms is that if they don’t bug you enough, you won’t keep going back to it.” Maybe it should be no surprise that in healthcare, making an app more annoying is actually a plus.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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