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

2/14/14Follow @angelashah

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also offer physician consulting services, but are focusing primarily on non-emergency care such as allergies, pink eye, or bronchitis. The most comparable to 2nd.MD, Shapland says, is Best Doctors in Boston, which launched in 1989 and says its has 30 million customers worldwide. Earlier this month, the privately held firm, which also targets employers as customers, announced revenues reached $180 million in 2013.

Though 2nd.MD is not that large—Shapland declined to disclose revenues—it’s growing its customer base, even attracting patients as far away as Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia.

The biggest obstacle to growth, Shapland says, is technology. Medical records are still very much mired in the paper world. “Once you get to an electronic world, it will be easier to get the relevant medical history,” Shapland says. “We’re faxing medical records. An 81-page fax of medical records? Getting images is even harder.”

A former chiropractor, Phillips in 2005 founded the Aspen Back and Body clinic in Aspen, which he sold to Laser Spine Institute four years later. To kick off 2nd.MD, he raised $4 million in angel funding, much of which came from his former patients at the clinic. Phillips says he expects the company to be profitable this year and that he is considering a Series A round to help fund an expansion.

In his daughter’s case, Phillips says a service like 2nd.MD could have provided more information on the possible use of Botox to help with her hand. (It turned out that, in the long run, the therapy would have no lasting therapeutic impact.)

“The doctor could say, ‘That’s a waste of time,’ ” he says. “They could narrow down the massive amount of information in a short period of time.”

In a founder’s story video posted on the company’s website, Phillips finds it incredible that advances in communication and technology have not been fully leveraged when it comes to medical care: “It seems crazy that I can buy a stock online in Tokyo; I can shop for a rare book in a foreign language, and yet I can’t find a doctor to speak to online.”

As for Gabi, she’s now 4 and Phillips is glad to report that she’s “walking and talking and going to regular school.”

The child has regained the ability to move on her right side, though she still has difficulty using her right hand, he added. “But we are hopeful she can be fully recovered.”

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.