July 5, 2018

Startup Q&A - Medumo Facilitates Personal Communication Between Patients and Hospitals

Digital health/health tech is another prominent tech hub in Boston, and with the advent of the PULSE@MassChallenge program, more digital health companies have come to prominence.

Medumo is one startup that has come out of PULSE, and they are focusing on creating patient engagement within hospitals. Their platform covers all sorts of communication-related issues that incoming patients face.

Co-Founder and CEO Adeel Yang spoke with us about his company and how they came together to create their tech. Yang also went into detail about their time at PULSE and their company’s culture.

Colin Barry [CB]: I’m a big fan of the phrase “origin story.” What are the origins behind Medumo?

Adeel Yang [AY]: Our founding team experienced first-hand the complexity of navigating everyday healthcare encounters and decided to tackle the problem head-on.

As physicians, we first discovered the problem when we struggled to keep our patients informed and on track with their pre and post-procedural instructions. Like other providers, we used the only ways available to us: antiquated methods such as verbal or paper-based instructions. We were continually feeling rushed due to the limited time we have with each patient. Additionally, we often had to communicate a significant amount of information either over the phone or during a patient visit even though many patients were anxious and had a difficult time retaining information from these interactions.

Adeel Yang
Adeel Yang, Co-Founder and CEO of Medumo.

Moreover, we were often instructing patients on what they needed to do weeks or months beforehand, and it was clear that a lot of information was either forgotten or never internalized, to begin with. Besides our personal experience, research studies have shown that 40-60% of medical information provided by healthcare practitioners is overlooked by the patients as soon as they leave the hospital. Another article published in JAMA reported that only 12% of US adults had a proficient state of health literacy. It’s no wonder why many patients fail to follow through with their self-care instructions, do not show up to their procedure on time or prepared, cancel procedures last minute, or worse, experience poor procedural outcomes due to inadequate preparation or follow up.

When we turned to our colleagues and the broader research community, we learned that our struggles were more the norm rather than the exception. The problem of patient adherence to procedural protocols has intensified over the years due to an increase in patient volume and a decrease in staff availability. Missed procedural appointments and failed procedure preparation directly impact a hospital’s bottom line. Take one high volume procedure like a colonoscopy. For example, each patient that fails the preparation or does not show up for a colonoscopy procedure costs the hospital approximately $1,300 to $1,500 in net losses. An average sized hospital performs approximately 15,000 colonoscopies per year and the average rate of no-show, late cancellation and failed preparation is 12%. This means poor adherence to instructions for even just one procedure can cost a hospital $3 million per year.

In making a business case to our hospital clients, private specialty practices, and ambulatory surgical centers, we show that if we can reduce their failed procedure preparation, no show, and late cancellation rates by just 20-30% for a few high volume procedures, we can save them millions of dollars every year.

CB: What is the ultimate goal of Medumo?

AY: Our philosophy at Medumo revolves around the concept of the human touch. Doctors and nurses can’t practically spend hours with one patient just to help them prepare for their procedures, but technology can.

Our ultimate goal is to narrow the gaps in health care between patients and providers. The Medumo platform offers a turn by turn navigation solution, created with the importance of the human touch. The platform is timely, easy to access, digestible and trackable through text and email, thereby creating value for hospitals and clinics by improving not only patient outcomes but operational efficiency through validated clinical algorithms.

Over the years, we’ve learned an enormous amount on how to humanize clinical protocols through precisely timed nudges, and to deliver instructions with empathy - and with the right motivation to results in patients taking action.

We drive appointment cancellations down while increasing patient engagement and procedure preparation quality. In doing so, the results are increase clinical efficiency and patients that are being screened and treated properly for the ultimate goal of putting their health first. We help doctors be doctors by taking care of the inefficiencies created by our current structure of healthcare.

CB: Explain what your company does. How does your platform work?

AY: In a nutshell, Medumo delivers patient-centric digital instructions through establish channels, such as SMS and email, to help patients navigate through any care episode. We call these care pathways CareTours™, which have proven to help patients successfully prepare, show up, complete and recover from their care.

Healthcare providers can easily customize CareTours™ to reflect details specific to their clinic and to carry patients through their treatments and procedures in the most cost-effective, scalable way possible. Healthcare organizations can license these peer-reviewed CareTours™ to automate the delivery of timely and engaging patient instructions and check-in questions without disrupting clinician workflow or investing in costly IT integrations - all with their logo on the platform to harness the trust between the institution and their patients.

CB: Who is the ideal user of Medumo? Who are some of the current users? Any use case that stands out to you?

AY: The responsibility of not only remembering but understanding instructions given by doctors is on patients. But the benefit of understanding those instructions is yielded by clinics and doctors who have properly prepared patients showing up for their appointments. For that reason, our ideal users are both patients and providers.

While we focus on patient engagement and experience, our product serves providers with just as much importance. Afterall, if a patient is not prepared, it is the doctor’s office or hospital clinic that must deal with the ramifications of appointment cancellations, improper procedure preparations, and very costly yet avoidable scenarios patients so often present.

Our team takes pride in understanding the patient perspective to design an empathetic and patient-centric platform. In a recent piece covered by Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s magazine, a patient explains: “All I had to do was read the texts. I wasn’t second-guessing myself, because the reminders came right when I needed them. In the follow-up procedure, they were able to remove 19 non-malignant polyps—because I was well informed and ready from the start.” This is a case that really stands out to us to exemplify what we are trying to achieve with patients: not only making it easy for them to follow instructions and improve preparations, but to empower them to know that going to an appointment prepared can ultimately be life-saving.

CB: How big is the team? Looking to hire any particular position in the upcoming months?

AY: We are 26-person strong. Our team has experienced significant growth in the last 6 months. After raising $4M in venture funding, we have expanded our teams to support growth, particularly in sales engineering to scale our solution.

We’re especially excited to announce that we just brought on our new Senior Vice President of Sales, Jim Whelan, who has over 20 years of experience in healthcare sales, including his most recent role as Senior Vice President of Global Sales for TriNetX, a global health research network optimizing clinical research. In addition to growing Medumo’s sale, the company is focused on boosting our product and engineering team as well as our implementations/deployment team.

CB: Does anyone on the team have prior digital health and/or healthcare work experience?

AY: Most of the founding members of Medumo are physicians and many team members have extensive experience in not only digital health, but in healthcare, capacities spanning medical training, hospital consulting, clinical research leadership, patient-centered design - all the way to health newsmedia.

Aside from extensive professional experience in healthcare and digital health, our team members take an immersive, all-in approach to understanding our clients and patients. An example of this that I’m proud of is when our Communications Lead, Fatima Shahzad, document every single step of her colonoscopy - from the moment she was recommended to have one to when she returned to work the day after its completion. We even had our Chief Product Officer, Amanda Bakerlee, shadow her procedure.

Medumo at PULSE
Adeel Yang and Amanda Bakerlee working out of the PULSE@MassChallenge offices.

CB: How would you describe your company culture?

AY: Simply: we care. Most if not all of our team members have a personal story to share about their experiences in receiving healthcare - from one team member undergoing a surgery and not knowing what steps to take to prepare, from another’s mother having colorectal cancer and requiring frequent colonoscopies and struggling with preparation instructions. As a company, we know it’s not just us - everyone desires to care that feels a bit more personal and everyone feels anxious when they don’t have the education and instructions required for a care episode.

I’d describe our company as supportive. After all, that is the point of our CareTours - to support patients as they move through their experiences with healthcare, some scary, some routine. This is reflected in the team’s interactions with one another and is how I what I hope to achieve with every team member: to be a pillar of support, just as they are for me.

CB: Your company was involved with the inaugural PULSE@MassChallenge Cohort. Tell me a little more about your time at the program?

AY: Although it was the inaugural digital health class for PULSE@MassChallenge, the organization has several years of experience with supporting the success of startups and entrepreneurs. I have emphasized this on every occasion that I can: we would not be where we are today without the support of PULSE@MassChallenge. Every PULSE team member supported the success of Medumo by deeply understanding not only the vision of our company, but also the requirements to achieve that vision. PULSE perfectly matched us with champions such as Julia Jackson from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) who took our relationship with MGH to the next level, all the way to our strategic partnership with Partners HealthCare announced earlier in June. Further, our time with PULSE resulted in Medumo adding over 20 paying health systems facilitated through PULSE matchmaking in 2017 and 2018.

CB: I’m always interested in how a startup came up with its name. How did Medumo get its name?

AY: We used to call our programs “Medical Education Modules” and the MEDUMO acronym kind of came about that way and stuck with us.

CB: Any other additional comments you’d like to make?

AY: We are honored and excited to make a difference in patient engagement, navigating hundreds of thousands of patients and saving providers hundreds of millions of avoidable costs. We hope to partner with more hospitals and healthcare organizations to expand our reach and impact. Get in touch with us!

Colin Barry is an Editor & Staff Writer to VentureFizz. Follow him on Twitter @ColinKrash

Images courtesy of Medumo