Getting medical advice online can be terrifying. Who knows if the information is true and safe, or just someone’s crackpot opinion? People want guidance from their own doctor. Unfortunately those doctors are so busy, they see patients infrequently and only for a few minutes at a time. But HealthCrew wants to give you a legitimate digital way to connect with your doctor online
Today at TechCrunch Disrupt NY, HealthCrew launched its private online forum for chronic disease patients and their primary care physicians. For now it supports diabetes and heart disease patients, but HealthCrew plans to expand to other conditions eventually.
Here’s how HealthCrew works. First, a doctor signs up for the service. Then when they diagnose patients with diabetes or heart disease, they can prescribe them HealthCrew and send them an invite. The patient signs up, and fills out a survey about their conditions, age, and other personal information. Or if the doctor uses the enterprise version of HealthCrew that’s hooked into their electronic medical records, this info is auto-populated.
Once patients are all signed up, they can access to a personalized portal to information provided by their doctor. The includes general tutorials about managing aspects of their disease, but also an asynchronous question and answer system for getting advice about specific issues. For example, a 60-year-old diabetes patient might see sections about diabetes for seniors, low-impact exercise routines, insulin, or diabetes & high-blood pressure. They could also ask their doctors or nurses questions about whether new medications might cause problematic side-effects.
But HealthCrew isn’t just doctor-to-patient. It also creates a horizontal community of patients who share a doctor and condition. They can support each other, exchange stories, and provide advice.
HealthCrew is free for both doctors and patients. How? Because the Affordable Care Act incentivizes hospitals to focus on maximizing healthy patients instead of the number of procedures and visits. By paying for HealthCrew, the company believes hospitals can reduce extraneous in-person patient visits and lower their costs to earn ROI. Eventually, HealthCrew may also monetize by helping drug companies find test subjects that match their criteria.
If patients sharing with each other and “scalable doctors” sound a bit strange, know that HealthCrew is based on an important breakthrough in medical care known as the group patient visit. Studies show that doctors whose patients have similar ailments are better treated through one long group session with their doc than short private sessions. Rather than spending 10 minutes with each of their 12 patients and wasting time parroting redundant info, they’re better off spending 2 hours with all 12 patients at once. The result is happier and healthier patients, and happier doctors too.
HealthCrew knows this because its co-founder Sohan Japa is an M.D. and MBA from Stanford. He stumbled upon the problem when he decided to log his time and see how much he actually spent face-to-face with patients. Over a 14-hour day where he saw 7 patients, he only spent a combined total of 10 minutes giving in-person care. Japa and his co-founder and CTO Bansi Shah, who has a BS in math and computer science from Stanford, decided to build HealthCrew to let doctors spend more time with patients, even if it was only asynchronously over the web. They’re bootstrapped, but have the support of Stanford student incubator StartX.
HealthCrew could give chronic disease patients online medical help they can trust.