Each year, to accompany our Healthcare Informatics 100 list of the largest companies in U.S. health information technology, we profile six fast-growing companies that could very well make The 100 in the future.
The growth trajectory of these startups suggests they could have a significant impact in health information technology. Most have drawn strong interest from venture capitalists. Others are coming at seemingly intractable problems in healthcare from completely new angles. The next company on this year’s list is Boston-based PatientPing.
Editor’s note: All of the 2017 up-and-comer stories can be read, as they come out this week, right here.
Jay Desai was employed at the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation from 2011 to 2013, working on rules for accountable care organizations and bundled payments. “One of the things we kept hearing from providers was that they needed to know where else their patients were being seen because they were financially accountable for what is going on with them, whether they receive care at an emergency room, hospital or nursing home,” he recalls. “We tried to solve this in the government and hit a lot of roadblocks. So I felt like doing it through a new network we establish in each of our communities was the right way to do it.”
So in September 2013 Desai co-founded Boston-based PatientPing, which offers providers real-time clinical event notifications. PatientPing’s technology bridges the silos between unaffiliated providers. For instance, if a primary care doctor’s patient ends up in the emergency room, that doctor will get “pinged.”
“What we are doing is not easy,” said Desai, who is the company’s CEO. (David Berkowicz, the company’s chief technology officer, is also a co-founder.) Health systems compete with each other, but also share a lot of patients. When they work together, the care is better, but that may not always be in their financial interest. “This is a problem everyone is experiencing,” he adds, “and if we can solve it, we can unlock a lot of value for patients.”
As a test market to launch PatientPing in 2013, Desai chose Massachusetts because it has a lot of providers taking accountability for cost and they share patients. “Knowing when a patient goes to skilled nursing or home health is a clear pain point, so we started there,” Desai says. Getting that first project to work was difficult, he admits. “One of our investors told us that building a network is 20 percent proprietary technology and 80 percent blood, sweat and tears. But what we pulled off in Massachusetts is applicable in almost every single market across the country.”
PatientPing charges based on the size of the patient panel that providers want to get notifications on. “We deliver value by helping them get visibility for care coordination,” Desai says. Medicaid HMOs, dual-eligible plans and large commercial insurers are also customers. “They don’t get real-time visibility when the patient goes to the emergency room. The billing workflow they use to get notifications can lag. We use registration data from the EHR and that is real time, so we do have a number of payer clients in all our markets.”
PatientPing’s market grew gradually into the “collar regions” of Massachusetts, because patients started going to facilities in other states. It now covers most of New England and has dropped some other anchors around the country — in Michigan, Illinois, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Several other markets are in the near-term pipeline, Desai says.
PatientPing raised $31.6 million in a Series B funding round in late 2016, bringing its total funding to $41.2 million. Desai says the funding will help with two big initiatives: One is expanding the network to more parts of the country. The second is increasing the value the company delivers to customers it serves through its platform. “We will add more functionality and more use cases, and we have a really exciting road map for what that is beyond notifying when a patient gets admitted or discharged anywhere.” The company, which has 60 employees, will at least double its team this year, Desai says. “We are excited to execute on a really important mission to connect providers across the country so they can coordinate care.”
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