The founders of Prime, a mobile app promising an easier way to securely collect all your health records from various physicians into a single interface, didn’t have a background in the health care industry when they began working on the idea over a year ago. But they’ve quickly gotten up to speed on things like HIPAA and the health care’s rules and regulations in the many months they’ve been heads down on the project, which some of the co-founders once deemed an “impossible task.”
As of today, the company reports it has now imported over 50,000 U.S. users’ health records into its system – and this is before they’ve really started marketing their company, or doing much press.
Some of you may have first heard about Prime pre-launch when they ran into Peter Cohen of iMore at last year’s WWDC. But the company again popped up this week, thanks to Product Hunt – the site that’s rapidly becoming a go-to resource for the best product discoveries.
However, Prime is not brand-new, as with many of the companies Product Hunt features – they’ve just been quiet.
The three co-founders, including CEO Tyler Hayes, previously an early employee of the online commenting platform Disqus, and brothers Will and Owen Imholte (previously of Intel), all hail from Minnesota originally. But Hayes and the siblings didn’t meet up until they had independently re-located to San Francisco.
Hayes says he came up with the idea after dealing with the problem personally, as family members of his suffered from chronic illnesses. While that’s not a problem everyone faces, it has likely touched someone you know – 130 million people have chronic illnesses, Hayes notes, and they’re the most in need of a service like this.
“People are having a tough time conveying information to doctors, and remembering information. We need to solve the most fundamental problem – we need to just give people their medical records,” he explains.
The way Prime works is that it leverages the patient portals for hospitals, clinics, and doctors offices where you’ve already established an account (i.e., a username and password). The app then works on your behalf to aggregate and organize all the medical records on your behalf, importing them into its simple and modern interface, where you can keep tabs on things like lists of medications, lab results, allergies, office visits, notes, immunization records, and more.
WHERE IT WORKS
Today, Prime’s system works with over 400 healthcare systems across the U.S. which have a combined reach of 100 million patients, including places like Mayo Clinic, the VA, Palo Alto Medical Foundation and many others. The team initially targeted the “head of the longtail,” but will later expand by targeting the next biggest systems, then the next, and so on.
Hayes points out that 90% of physicians now use an electronic system of some sort, which indicates they have some room to grow. And thanks to HIPAA, doctors are at least required to provide patients with a copy of their medical records, while other incentives (like “Meaningful Use”) push them to do so digitally.
However, the challenge for Prime is that it does require users to have already completed the tedious task of creating accounts at their various doctors’ online portals – it can’t automate that process for you (at least not today). That’s why they’ve started by targeting Prime to those with chronic illnesses – not only did it do well in testing, these patients are also the most likely to already have this account information handy.
The San Francisco-based company is currently participating in TechStars out in Kansas City, and beyond the TechStars funding, is bootstrapped.
Obviously, something like Prime faces a number of challenges in trying to navigate the complex, red-tape filled health care industry, but Hayes points out that while the team’s lack of experience in this space could be seen as a “con,” it might be a “pro,” too.
“We weren’t bogged down by all the bureaucracy and other problems in health care,” he says. “We just had to get to know the information we needed to know.”
The company plans to generate revenue by helping users get the things they need, like medication refills. Longer-term, Prime will roll out more benefits, like doctor referrals and clinical trials.
Prime has been quietly live since last fall on iTunes, as the team market tested which segment of the population would be most drawn to the idea – chronic illness sufferers, veterans, parents, etc. The app is a free download here.