Houston’s 2nd.MD Digitizes Second Opinions to Empower Patients

2/14/14Follow @angelashah

Entrepreneurs often have very personal reasons for setting up shop. Clinton Phillips’s motivation was his daughter having a stroke at birth—and nobody realizing it until months later.

“When a baby’s bundled, you don’t notice that they’re not moving around or kicking as they should be,” he says.

Four months later, he and his wife noticed that daughter Gabi was paralyzed on her right side. In their panic, he says, they recalled a brief episode right after birth when the newborn had turned blue. Turns out, Gabi had had an undiagnosed stroke.

It took about seven months before the family could see an appropriate pediatric neurologist, precious time wasted, Phillips says. And because his daughter wasn’t officially a patient of any of the specialists they had contacted during their search, the Phillipses couldn’t even get basic advice on therapies for their daughter.

“No family should get a similar runaround,” he says. “You should be able to see doctors within days, and get peace of mind and guidance.”

That trauma led Phillips to found 2nd.MD, an online physician consulting service, a year after his daughter’s birth in 2010. By that time, the family had moved from Aspen, CO, to Houston to seek care for Gabi at the Texas Medical Center.

Phillips says other families should not have to uproot their lives simply to get medical consultations. At 2nd.MD, patients and their families can log onto the site, upload relevant medical documents, and book a video consultation with a specialist, typically within three days. If a user is unsure of which specialist to choose, he or she can submit a medical question, and 2nd.MD will respond with suggestions. Each doctor dictates his or her fee for the 20-minute sessions. 2nd.MD pays them between $300 and $1,500.

“Our doctors help you to understand all of your options,” says Laura Shapland, 2nd.MD’s chief operating officer. “It could be a confirmation of a diagnosis or a suggestion of an alternative. It’s about somebody sitting on your side of the table.”

2nd.MD’s doctors are … Next Page »

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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  • Tim

    “2nd.MD’s doctors are not technically practicing medicine.”

    You do not have to write prescriptions or make diagnoses to “practice medicine.” Creating a patient-physician relationship (which 2nd.MD appears to facilitate) and rendering medical opinions/advice constitutes the practice of medicine in most states. For example, in Washington state,

    “A person is practicing medicine if he or she does one or more of the following:

    (1) Offers or undertakes to diagnose, cure, ADVISE, or prescribe for
    any human disease, ailment, injury, infirmity, deformity, pain or other
    condition, physical or mental, real or imaginary, by any means or
    instrumentality…”

    I can call a duck a turkey as often as I want. At the end of the day, it is still a duck.

    While laws do vary by state, “practicing medicine” across state lines without a license in each state where the patients live is in most cases a felony. While most would agree these laws are antiquated, they are still laws.

    Best of luck staying off the radar of state medical boards as you scale.

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