Google Ventures leads $8M investment in PatientPing to alert doctors when patients are admitted elsewhere

By Jonah Comstock
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PatientPingReducing readmissions is an oft-repeated goal as the healthcare industry transitions from fee-for-service to value-based care. But "readmissions" can be a bit of a misnomer, since patients aren't always admitted to the same facility they were discharged from. And a patient's primary care provider doesn't always have a way to find out that their patient has turned up in another hospital's emergency room.

PatientPing is seeking to address this problem. The Boston-based startup just completed an $8 million round led by Google Ventures and FPrime Capital, with additional contributions from First Round Capital and SV Angel. They also announced a previously unreported $1.6 million round, which brings the company's total funding to $9.6 million.

"There’s a lot of providers who care to know what’s going on with their patient outside of their four walls," PatientPing CEO and cofounder Jay Desai told MobiHealthNews. "One group is primary care providers. So, if a primary care physician wants to have their practice manager, or a nurse, or themselves get notified when a patient goes anywhere, then they would provide us with their patient roster. Another group might be a large accountable care organization or a physician organization that’s doing care coordination work for all the individual PCPs in their network. ... For anyone who has an interest in coordinating care -- and it turns out there’s a lot of entities out there -- this is a basic problem. There isn’t an infrastructure out there."

PatientPing currently operates in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. They've built a network of emergency rooms and urgent care clinics, and they receive patient rosters from their customers -- PCPs, ACOs, skilled nursing facilities, home care nurses, and others who want to know when their patients show up in the ER. PatientPing gives the rosters to their network via a mobile and desktop software, and when patients on the list are admitted to a facility in the network, information is shared in two directions: the patient's care provider receives a ping and the admitting facility receives care guidelines including contact information for their care team, medication lists, allergies, and special instructions.

This coordination hasn't really existed before, Desai said, because it's just not as high a priority in a fee-for-service system.

"It’s a very disorganized network of faxes, emails, phone calls, and impartial coverage," he said. "The reason there is no network is partially because people didn’t have that strong of a financial interest in caring about what goes on outside your clinic. In a fee-for-service system you just deal with people coming through your clinic. Everyone know’s it’s helpful to know when the patient’s [readmitted], but they didn’t really care that much. And that’s why you have ad hoc systems. Now that we’re very clearly moving to a value-based system, I think that there’s a much bigger demand for this sort of basic infrastructure to keep providers coordinating with one another. People are saying 'why doesn’t it exist already?' so we’re building an infrastructure to make that happen."

The company intends to use the funding to take their current four-state network nationwide. Desai says the next couple of launches are ready to go, and more are in the works. Once the network is wide enough, the company will explore what else they can offer customers.

"There’s a big opportunity for us to do much more as we start getting providers coordinated and connected through this network," Desai said. "We have very big plans to do much more than just notifications and guidelines. "