One Medical Raises $20 Million For The Modern Doctor’s Office

It’s 2011, but most doctor’s offices are still stuck in the 1990s when it comes to patient-facing technology.  The receptionist probably has a computer to manage appointments, but typically you still sign in on paper, fill out forms on a clipboard, and your doctor relies on a loosely-bound sheaf of papers to check your medical records.  Tom Lee is trying to change that from the ground up with One Medical Group, the venture-backed primary care practice he founded a few years ago where he is CEO.

On Friday, he closed a $20 million series E, led by Maverick Capital, with Benchmark, Oak Investment, and DAG Ventures participating.  The new round brings the total capital raised since 2007 to $46.5 million.

One Medical operates 9 doctor’s offices in San Francisco and New York, and will open 5 more this year, expanding to Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. Patients can schedule appointments online, request prescriptions, get lab results digitally, and see their personal health summary online. Doctors can access medical records electronically (One Medical designed its own electronic medical record with doctors and patients in mind, not administrators). One benefit of having digital medical records is that patients can visit any office since every doctor has access to their records.

New patients can join online, and pay online.  It even has its own iPhone app for scheduling appointments.  Simple questions which can be addressed via email or the iPhone app are done digitally instead of requiring an in-person visit.  And when patients do go in, the offices are bright, airy and modern.

All of this technology, which is a combination of off-the-shelf and proprietary systems, is aimed at reducing administrative costs, and improving the experience for both doctors and patients.  Lee contrasts his approach to the physician practice management movement of the 1990s, an investment fad which saw hundreds of doctor’s offices rolled up into larger operating companies.  “The PPM movement in the 90s didn’t fundamentally reengineer the workflow of the doctor’s office or improve the experience,” says Lee.  PPMs were driven by administrators.  One  Medical is driven by doctors.  Its approach is to “reengineer the doctor’s office to be more patient-centered with less administrative overhead.”

Whereas most primary care doctor’s offices employ 3.5 to 4.5 support staff per doctor, One Medical offices make do with 1.5 support staff or less.  What does it do with these efficiency gains?  “We invest that back into the doctor-patient relationship,” explains Lee, “so they have more time to answer questions and have a thoutghful discussion abouit healthcare choices.”  One Medical accepts most insurance, but also charges an annual membership fee of $149 to $199 for all the extra bells and whistles.

Lee himself was trained as a medical doctor before he got fed up with the healthcare system and went to Stanford business school.  He then became a co-founder of Epocrates, a popular mobile app used by doctors to look up drug interactions and care for patients.  Lee led the design of the mobile and web products at Epocrates.  Now he is using technology to redesign the entire primary care experience.