No more phone tag: PingMD wants to make patient and provider communication more efficient
When Drs. Gopal and Manju Chopra formed their companyPingMD last year, it was based on observations Manju had made that new and young parents were looking for ways other than the phone to contact physicians, such as by email or text. Calls placed between parents and pediatricians would often lead to a time-consuming game of phone tag.
The app was initially designed to help parents send medical queries on behalf of their children, which can include video or pictures. The company advises against using the app for urgent medical queries. Users can add video or pictures to their questions, which can lead physicians to seek a more rapid appointment depending on the physician’s perspective. That’s what happened when a couple of concerned parents recorded their child’s cough and were advised to bring their son in when the provider detected wheezing.
Gopal estimates that it can significantly reduce the 72 hours it typically takes for healthcare professionals to respond to queries .And that information is transmitted to the patient’s electronic health records.
At the same time, the couple recognized that making mobile text messaging HIPAA-compliant could let healthcare professionals, especially residents, use technology they’re comfortable with and still protect sensitive information for things like consults. By having a platform where users can see all the messages sent back and forth for a single issue, it helps avoid broken workflows between providers and reduces the risk of miscommunication and medical errors. Some of the pilots of its technology that are currently underway focus on improving communication around patients with chronic conditions.
One health care professional used the video component to show a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder having a tantrum as part of a consult. Others have used it to take pictures of X-rays and post operative wounds for other consults.
“So many area of medicine can be integrated, ” said Gopal. “We make it very easy for care collaborators to communicate,” said Gopal. When the company was formed, he switched from practicing medicine to working full time as an entrepreneur, though his wife continues to work as a physician.
One thing the Chopras are pleased about with their communication platform is that it was developed by physicians using an interface that makes sense to medical professionals. By adding a picture and video component it helps to improve the clarity and context of the pings.
Currently the app is free to patients and providers but the company is offers licensing to larger groups and has been been piloting the app around the country.
The company raised $1.3 million in a funding round earlier this year from investors such as Matthew and Stewart Greenfield, Ernest Pomerantz and Jessica Nagle. It expects to raise more as it upgrades its software sometime in August and at the end of the year.