Whenever I book a doctor’s appointment through my medical group I expect to wait at least a couple of weeks to get in. Meanwhile, there are probably two or three doctors in the area who could meet my needs and see me much sooner.
It’s a glaring weakness in our health care system in a time when efficient access to affordable care is a big issue.
Many patients end up getting set up with the wrong doctor the first time out and end up having to be referred again. This can detract from the quality and timeliness of the care the patient receives, and it costs the health care system money when that first exam has to be repeated by a second doctor.
One company, Kyruus, is doing a deep dive into the data to make health providers far smarter about matching patients with physicians.
The best way to understand what the Boston-based company does is by comparing it to the airline industry. Airlines and travel sites all use systems that allow consumers to enter a series of criteria to find the right flight. These could include time of travel, airline, seat location, class of service, etc.
But health care providers have never had a data-driven way of intelligently matching physicians with patients — until Kyruus. (Actually, Kyruus’s CTO was one of the developers of the Kayak travel search engine.) The platform allows health providers to make doctor referrals based on a number of criteria including things like the doctor’s specialty, language skills, ratings, location, or soonest availability.
Sometimes the right doctor is the one who’s available, says Kyruus cofounder and CEO Graham Gardner. “People are queuing up for Dr. Famous, when they could see Dr. I-just-joined-the-practice who does the same things, and they could see him much sooner,” Gardner says. (Gardner is a cardiologist who gave up regular practice after getting the health IT entrepreneur bug. Kyruus is his second startup in the space.)
In order to bring all that physician data together in one place, Kyruus taps a number of disparate IT systems. These can include the physician scheduling system in the health system’s electronic health records (EHR) system, and databases containing physician ratings, billing and claims data, and patient scheduling systems.
There’s also a need to bring together all the different email addresses a specific doctor uses, so that they can be easily reached for referrals.
As client systems like Partners Healthcare in Boston and USC in Los Angeles began to use the Kyruus system more, they saw that it could help them match supply and demand.
While taking a much closer look at physician utilization, these health systems found that 30 to 40 percent of physician slots remained unfilled every day. The Kyruus system is helping bring those numbers down by putting patients in those slots and reducing physician downtime.
There are two main elements to the Kyruus revenue model, Gardner explained. The first thing that happens with a new client is that Kyruus comes in and meets with the physicians to gather accurate data for its referral database. This information might include the various services the doctors provide. This typically takes three to four months, Gardner says, and his company charges a service fee for that.
On an ongoing basis, Kyruus charges a subscription fee for access to its physician suggestion engine. The subscription cost is dependent on the size of the health system, the number of referrals being made, and on the number of areas within the system where Kyruus is being used, Gardner said.
Kyruus is not a consumer-facing service yet, but soon will be. Health systems now use the Kyruus referral suggestion engine to assist representatives in patient call centers, and to help medical office and hospital doctors make smart referrals.
Gardner says Partners Health will soon give patients direct access to the Kyruus engine. “We will launch through the hospital’s own website,” Gardner said. “We’ll be powering their Find-a-Doc page.”
Kyruus has taken two rounds of funding so far. Highland Capital and Venrock invested in 2011, then Fidelity Biosciences and Lux Capital threw in 2012. In total Kyruus has taken $38.8 million in funding, according to Crunchbase.