Two Gig Tank companies bringing doctors to a mobile device near you
Two of the Gig Tank teams that presented last night are working in slightly different corners of telemedicine. I interviewed founders of Docity and One-to-One Telehealth a few days before Pitch Night.
Telemedicine itself is far from new. The combination of a doctor in one location serving patients in many locations through video streaming and a nurse next to the patient to poke, prod and measure at the right times is fast becoming a staple of small town health care, where specialists are relatively scarce.
James Cowan of Docity, is after something a little more audacious. He already has competitors taking aim at the sizable market of people who need something less than lifesaving but not medically trivial. The familiar healthcare quiz question “Should I go to the ER, the doctor or an urgent care center?” has a small but growing fourth choice: “... or open a video chat?”
Like his competitors, Cowan wants to package the ability to stream-visit your doctor and transmit vital signs taken on a mobile-connected device. But he wants to sell that to you as part of a service bundle from your cable-Internet provider or electric utility. What if EPB or one of its slower competitors could offer 24/7/365 doctor visits for a few dollars more every month? Cowan thinks Docity is the only company working on selling telehealth as a service plan through utility companies.
At this moment, according to Cowan, the consumer hardware available isn’t where it needs to be, but he is hopeful it will be soon. Docity and One-to-One Telehealth are working with the device they see as the best device available now. CliniCloud has a temperature sensor on one end and a stethoscope for heartbeat and lung sounds on the other, but Cowan is looking forward to something that collects those vitals (and more) and transmits video all in one.
The two companies both use CliniCloud, and One-to-One Telehealth operates on Docity’s software platform, but their approaches to telemedicine are distinct.
Marcus Morgan of One-to-One Telehealth has worked in health care, sees an inefficient health care system and looks for telemedicine solutions that start with the doctor-patient relationship.
“Let’s make this more efficient by introducing telehealth,” he says. “That’s how we get a better-run doctor’s office and better outcomes in the future.”
Cowan brings a different perspective. He comes from outside the health care industry, but says his four young children have had every health care issue you can imagine, giving him extensive experience on the patient side. Despite seeing how inefficient health care can be, he holds no grudges.
“There are no villains—not doctors, not patients, not hospitals, not insurance companies,” he says. “It’s kind of like nature. It’s not inherently biased against anyone, it’s just nature.”
The solutions Cowan sees are shaped by his experience in the utility industry: “I view health care the same way I view electricity. It’s something everybody should have. I want reliability, affordability, sustainability and personalization.”
Docity already has customers paying for its telehealth software platform and is looking for “dating relationships” with potential investors, says Cowan, although the big push for telemedicine as a utility is still in the pitching phase.
“Where we are trending is offering our product directly to consumers or through utilities,” Cowan says. “What we’re doing next is taking a service plan-style to the market, allying with local doctors through affinity partnerships that already have access to every man woman and child in America.”
The two companies are collaborating to create an active pilot program in Chattanooga, including active discussions with EPB and with Cowan’s former local and regional associates in other utilities.
“Docity will be the conduit, the technology connection that sits on top of the Gig that enables anyone who signs up for the service to connect with a local doctor, and that local doctor is One-to-One,” says Cowan.
Rich Bailey is a professional writer, editor and (sometimes) PR consultant. He led a project to create Chattanooga’s first civic website in 1995 before even owning a modem. Now he covers Chattanooga technology for The Pulse and blogs about it at CircleChattanooga.com