If you work for an outpatient facility or a small private practice in a suburban town and the equipment breaks down or has some kind of malfunction, chances are you won’t be able to get in contact with a technician that’s already taking jobs with larger hospitals. Or, in some scenarios, the equipment is so old, that it's difficult to keep track of the status of them or find someone who can service them.
UptimeHealth is looking to bridge the gap between private practices and technicians looking to get repairs done efficiently. The name comes from the technical term “uptime,” which is used in regards to how a piece of medical equipment is functioning.
Jinesh Patel, Founder and CEO of UptimeHealth, connected with us to talk about his background working with hospital equipment, how the startup’s software works, and their time as part of Techstars Boston.
Colin Barry [CB]: What is your background prior to starting UptimeHealth?
Jinesh Patel [JP]: When I came out of grad school, I worked at a company called TriMedX, where I based out of Austin and worked at a facility called Seton Healthcare. I managed their clinical engineering department, where the role was all about taking care of the equipment, managing repairs, and devices, and making sure everything was up to regulatory compliance. That was the bread and butter of my job.
I wanted to grow within that role at TriMedX, but I wanted to scratch an entrepreneurial itch and ended up leaving. I founded TargetVision in Houston with one of my best friends, where we built B2C products for something unrelated to what I was doing at TriMedX, but the goal of it was to learn how to build a company. TargetVision is still active in Houston, and my best friend still works there, but eventually, it was time for me to move on. Fast forward a couple of years and my wife got a job at HubSpot and we relocated to Boston.
While doing some consulting work, I spent my nights drawing out the plans for what was at the time the prototype for UptimeHealth. It got to a point where I had to make a choice; either get a job in biomedical engineering, which isn’t hard to do in Boston or start this company.
And that’s when I decided to go all in.
CB: What was the big “a-ha” moment for you and what led you to start UptimeHealth in its particular market?
JP: I realized a couple of things while working at TriMedX. One of them being I had a whole team and a ton of resources that I could rely on and a budget to complete the job. However, I understood that coming from a family of physicians, there are facilities and private practices without anything to help them out. I started asking people I knew working in those places, “What do you do?” A lot of them said they use contracts from the manufacturers. I began to dig around the idea of why they wouldn’t hire an in-house technician, and economically, it doesn’t make sense for a small private practice.
However, there is a whole sector out there called independent service organizations that are the “mom-and-pop” style places that have worked for the manufacturers and have long-standing experience in this field. Most of them don’t have a great marketing presence, and only get jobs through referrals or word-of-mouth. I realized that if I can connect these smaller hospitals with those technicians, the hospitals are saving money and the mom-and-pop stores are getting business.
CB: Based on your experience in this field, what are some of the biggest problems in UptimeHealth’s respective space?
JP: Number one is letting our clients, who are typically nurses and small facilities, continue to look after patients and stop worrying about the equipment. A lot of the time, the nurse is the first line of defense for repairs...and they are not technicians! All the time they are spending trying to fix something could be spent taking care of somebody. We want to automate that, and solve the equipment problems, so they can continue solving the real difficult ones.
Number two is understanding that there is this big ecosystem out there of outpatient facilities that are doing things in an inefficient manner that are costing them billions of dollars. Helping them make their actions more efficient could allow them to allocate the money into providing better care for their patients.
CB: How does UptimeHealth’s technology work?
JP: UptimeHealth is a web-based software platform, but before a facility will start using the platform, they will have to get in contact with us to do a facility audit, where we will look at all of the equipment first-hand. Most clients don’t know the cost or status of their equipment off the top of their head, instead, they have a piece of paper with information written on it, a document of the very first purchases they made when the practice first opened, or it's in an Excel spreadsheet. We will give the facility an accurate and detailed list of all the equipment and upload it into our system.
From there, we will give our clients suggestions on how they can get in contact with the right technicians. We are pretty hands-on with the connecting our clients to service technicians right now, but we know eventually it will become a more streamlined service. We are planning to develop a mobile version for our technicians to help with work orders. We also want to make it easier for assistants working in the facility to get in contact with us and fix the problems that occur. We put a barcode on every device, and they can just take a picture and, since the equipment is in our system, they can request a repair form their phone.
CB: How long was the development process on the platform?
JP: We built a very terrible MVP within a few months, but then we hired our CTO [Bill Olsen] who revamped the platform around May of last year. So, it took about nine to eleven months for our real, stableMVP to come together. I think I, unfortunately, made the process longer because of my initial prototype, but we did have something to work off of.
CB: You’ve mentioned a few times who the typical user base is and how they are using UptimeHealth. Are there any use cases that have stood out to you personally?
JP: One of our clients didn’t know the best practices for maintaining equipment. They didn’t realize everything wasn’t up to compliance and that they weren’t hiring the right technicians for the job. We took a system that didn’t exist for them, and made it automated. Now, if they ever have any technical issues, they call us. When they call us, they always tell the team that they enjoying leaning on us because we always have the answers and because we’ve now helped them save 20% on repair costs.
CB: Congrats on your recent graduation from Techstars Boston! Could you share some experiences taking part in the accelerator?
JP: For the team and I, being accepted into the Techstars program alone was enough validation to continue working on this and they really believed in what we were doing.
They put around this framework for us to work around that, and I’m sure you’ve heard this analogy a lot, felt like a pressure cooker. It was intense, high-energy, and a short amount of time to challenge every assumption we had. The program also really helped us know where our “north star” is and gave us a sense of focus on accomplishing what we set out to do.
Aside from the mentorship, the teams that they brought in were unique in their own realm. They did an amazing job diversifying this years class there were four female founders and companies from all over the world. I think having all these diverse groups of people around you, giving you the ability to learn from different perspectives and also provide you with a new sense of family.