Software Startup MedSpoke Adds Physician Users, Mulls New Funding
San Antonio—MedSpoke, a startup with software that aims to make the process of verifying a physician’s credentials easier, is picking up momentum and might seek a new round of funding as soon as the first quarter of 2018, according to CEO Jonathan Larson.
The San Antonio company has already had some conversations with healthcare-focused venture capital firms about a possible Series A round of funding, he says. MedSpoke, which Larson co-founded in 2015, has been building its business with a $1.4 million round of seed funding it received from Geekdom Fund and other individual investors.
MedSpoke sells a Web and mobile app that streamlines the listing and verification of a physician’s experience, qualifications, and practice history. That process, which the healthcare industry calls “credentialing,” takes place before a hospital hires a doctor, before he or she can practice in a state, and when a doctor wants to get reimbursed by an insurer, Larson says. MedSpoke is using technology to replace an arduous process filled with lots of paperwork, he says.
“Credentialing is kind of your worst college application on steroids,” says Larson, a physician and former medical director at health insurer Aetna. “We saw a huge opportunity to provide a technology solution, and to take that analog, slow process and to take it into the 21st century.”
Organizations like Aetna have internal groups that confirm the credentials of the healthcare workers with which it contracts, according to a document from the company. In 2013, Aetna said it typically performs the process on about 144,000 doctors annually. Other healthcare organizations that must check doctors’ credentials include hospital chains, physician groups, private emergency medical centers, and urgent care centers.
MedSpoke is targeting those organizations, offering its software as a service meant to limit paperwork and the time it takes to verify physicians’ various documents, from medical school records to expiration dates of certifications, to continuing medical education. The startup charges an annual fee per physician for maintaining the information, Larson says, and also charges a la carte fees for any time a new certification is required.
MedSpoke also offers its service to the physicians themselves, who may want to have an account in case they are looking to take a job at a new hospital, Larson says. Physicians typically change jobs about two to three years after their residency, Larson says. The service reduces the time a physician might spend on compiling and documenting their work history, he says.
There were an estimated 916,264 licensed physicians in the U.S. in 2014, according to a study from the Federation of State Medical Boards. MedSpoke currently has 1,000 physicians and 14 companies enrolled on its platform, Larson says.
A few other companies have software that also automates the physician credentialing process, including Houston-based Symplr, Naperville, IL-based 3Won, and Santa Monica, CA-based Silversheet. MedSpoke tries to differentiate itself, Larson contends, by combining a physician-focused app with software it sells to hospitals, insurers, and other healthcare groups.
Telemedicine is also providing MedSpoke with some potential business, Larson says. Physicians that offer online consultations through applications have to be licensed in each state they might have a client, which is a service that MedSpoke offers. “If I’m in Texas and I want to give a telemedicine consult in Washington state, then I need to be licensed in Washington state as well,” he says.