After four months of waiting, Michael Nusimow had finally gotten his sick father in to see a specialist.
The thick manila envelopes stuffed with his dad’s lengthy medical records and 20 drug prescriptions had been a barrier in advancing his care. To cut down on paperwork pain, this doctor used electronic medical records, but Nusimow, who designed software at Bloomberg, wasn’t impressed by the system — and not just because of the archaic technology it used.
“The doctor spent 20 minutes on a workstation. He’d throw random questions over his shoulder and really didn’t make eye contact,” he said. “It felt weird.”
His lousy experience led him and college roommate Daniel Kivatinos to found drchrono, a company betting that automation and intuitive input processes on devices that don’t require a keyboard will take doctors’ attention away from their EMR systems and onto their patients. So far, that bet seems to be paying off.
In the past three years, drchrono’s revenue has jumped 675 percent, selling a cloud-based SaaS system that streamlines administrative tasks and condenses complex EMR systems into a tablet-friendly app.
“We focus on the iPad as a delivery platform because doctors hold it kind of like they would a paper chart,” he said, noting that a tablet is less engaging than using a keyboard.
Drchrono isn’t selling to the white whales of big hospitals and health systems just yet. Those waters are dominated by huge firms like Epic Systems Inc., which last year claimed 21.7 percent of the nearly 260,000 professionals that use EMR systems, according to trade publication Modern Healthcare.
Instead, it focuses on practices with fewer than 10 doctors and is building its way up from there. Currently, the largest practice it serves has 40 doctors, but the company has set its sights on 100-doctor practices.
But the pool of nonaffiliated practices may be shrinking, said Mike Kirby, a managing director in KPMG’s Healthcare Advisory practice. Ambulatory practices affiliated with large health networks have grown from 22 percent to 40 percent in the last six years, and hospital-affiliated practices tend to adopt the hospital’s technology. Physicians investing in smaller startups face gambles as well. Some startups from the beginning of the EMR wave went out of business, he said.
Foot and ankle surgeon Bill Metaxas may be an ideal target for drchrono — he has a two-doctor practice that he wants to grow and he’s a self-described “data nerd.”
He said drchrono makes it easier to focus on patients by streamlining tasks like insurance billing and by automating checks for things like drug interactions. Metaxas uses drchrono’s Google Glass app and he said he thinks drchrono will continue to grow if it keeps developing new technologies.
“We were first to launch on the iPad — we went all in and it really paid off for us — and we’re always there on the first day with new wearable EMR technology like Google Glass,” Nusimow said. “You have to be No. 1 at something, and we’re the most technologically innovative.”
Drchrono has raised nearly $7 million in venture funding. Its backers include Maxfield Capital, Silicon Valley Bank, Runa Capital and Box.
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