Posted December 6, 2016

You or someone in your family most likely has experienced dealing with too many healthcare providers at once: whether it’s a child getting injured while on the road for an away soccer game; trying to manage going to the right ER while you’re in an ambulance with EKG leads being placed on you; or just regularly dealing with a patchwork of multiple specialty healthcare providers in addition to a primary care physician.

The reality is that many Americans have A LOT of doctors to deal with. Sounds like a fortunate problem to have, but due to the nature of our healthcare system, these providers are disconnected from each other. To put this in perspective, consider the average Medicare patient visits an average of seven providers every year. And since these providers’ practices aren’t usually connected, that patient ends up receiving care across four different, unaffiliated facilities.

Unfortunately, this significantly increases costs — not just actual costs of healthcare, but also costs of coordination: that your doctor immediately knows you’re in trouble, that you’re in the right place, that everyone who needs to know is notified about what’s going on. Scarily, lots of information — from critical medical context to data that ensures smooth transitions — slips through the cracks. Most providers rarely have the ability to coordinate beyond their own facilities, let alone know where else their patients are receiving care.

And that’s where PatientPing comes in. The company coordinates patient care by automatically providing real-time notifications or “Pings” to providers whenever their patients experience an admission, transfer, discharge, or other such movement event from a healthcare facility. This allows for a doctor to know when you’re in trouble, know where you are, let someone know whether you should be somewhere else… know what’s going on. It’s a far better alternative to information being lost altogether or family members or patients themselves having to manually coordinate by frantically fumbling with their cellphones during a medical emergency. Which is what basically happens right now.

By providing notifications to care managers and providers, PatientPing helps distributed stakeholders immediately know where their patients are — real-time, seamlessly, and at any point as they move along the continuum of care. PatientPing also does this through building a community of providers, which helps enable more patient-centered care. While “patient-centered” has become a buzzword in the industry, we believe that the combination of lightweight tech and this network is what actually makes this possible, because it’s all centered around the patient yet removes friction from around them as well. It also fits a broader, ongoing, ultimately inevitable industry shift towards value-based care.

As general partners in the a16z Bio and a16z funds respectively, we’ve always said that we’ve got the full team involved in vetting and weighing in on all pitches to contribute specific domain expertise — whether it’s biology and healthcare or marketplaces or pricing and sales — throughout the lifetime of a company. And that’s what we’re doing here.

PatientPing is addressing a real problem in healthcare, where so many of the issues aren’t just biological but systemic. Co-founder and CEO Jay Desai came up with the original concept for it while helping to lead accountable care organization (ACO) development for fee-for-service Medicare while at the CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) Innovation Center. The problem — and especially the solution — wouldn’t have been obvious to an industry outsider; Jay navigated the idea maze from a strong healthcare industry core and then pursued technology-first approaches. By participating in PatientPing’s series B round — Vijay is also joining the board — we’re excited to support the efforts of Jay and team to build this important business and more importantly, what it will yield for both patients and providers.