There were about 50 people gathered in a room last night waiting to see the doctor. When he arrived, he wore a blue blazer and brought news of a revolutionary application he designed to remedy the long-standing problem of connecting physicians with hospitals and the patients who need them.
Introduced at the Geekdom Event Center to a crowd of investors and supporters from the tech community in San Antonio as a “medical Millennial,” Dr. Jon Larson publicly launched his startup, MedSpoke, a software application aimed at soothing some of the headaches of credentialing in the healthcare industry.
Credentialing is the process hospitals use to establish the qualifications of licensed physicians and assess their background and legitimacy. On average, the process requires about six months time, mountains of paperwork from both the State and the hospital, and administrative staff to coordinate it all.
It’s a process physicians must undertake for each and every hospital they work for. For physicians like Larson and others, it’s a major pain point to helping patients.
“That credentialing process is truly the bottleneck to getting into your job,” Larson said. With physician shortages estimated to reach between 46,000 and 90,000 by 2025, it’s a problem that’s only going to get worse.
“It’s a $3.7 trillion industry that still thinks fax machines are a good way to transfer information,” he added. “And it’s not only the physicians; even the hospitals just accepted the status quo. But we spent four months talking to CEOs, doctors, administration, and no one said this is not a problem.”
Yet, no one was looking to solve it, especially not from the physician perspective.
“MedSpoke is the first physician-centered mobile application that gives the physician the ability to manage all their credentialing data in one place,” Larson said. “Groups who use us never have to see a form again.”
A West Point graduate and residency-trained, board-certified emergency medicine physician, who also has a master’s degree in business administration and “an entrepreneurial itch,” Larson began experiencing the inefficiencies in credentialing when he moved from Sacramento to San Antonio and started looking for a job after his residency.
He called area hospitals and got connected to physician groups that staff them. “Everyone I was connected to, they handed me all this paperwork. I found it to be incredibly inefficient,” said Larson, who has worked in six different hospitals in San Antonio.
“I kind of leveraged my place in the marketplace by taking on the onerous credentialing process of all these six places (that) asked me for the same information in a different format,” he said. “I went through that pain because I saw the opportunity. When they needed a shift covered, they would pay me whatever it took because I made myself available.”
But that inefficiency within the $3.7 trillion healthcare industry nagged at him. “It’s often said, ‘healing is an art, medicine is a profession, health care is a business, so I found my interest piqued and (found out) how it functioned,” Larson said. He later worked for health insurance group Aetna to learn the corporate side of medicine.
“Groups see us as their competitive advantage because they don’t have to hire staff to handle this credentialing process anymore,” Larson said. “Reliance doesn’t have a single administrator dealing with credentialing.”
He credits Geekdom and Rackspace with helping him find a network beyond the one he already had in the healthcare world. It also gave him the opportunity to build a talented team so he could develop his idea into a marketable solution – which, he said, is the greatest challenge with a project like this.
The MedSpoke team is made up of Larson as CEO, Chief Technology Officer Tim Britt, Chief Revenue Officer Terry Flander, Chief Marketing Officer Nick Jones, and Dragos Iorgulescu, Jen Lincoln, Matt Caponigro, and Brandon Dinesman.
Geekdom also helped Larson connect with investors to fund the startup. So far, he has raised $1.4 million from the Geekdom Fund and from 18 investors – half of which are physicians and the other half are tech people.
Larson is 100% in as well, he said, as he is currently not practicing medicine but focusing all his energy on the success of MedSpoke. Quoting Teddy Roosevelt for that exact reason, he said, “If he fails, at least (he) fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”