Philippe d'Offay

Q&A with Philippe d'Offay

June 20, 2016
by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter
Physicians are often not able to effectively communicate because their EHR systems are siloed and regulatory barriers prohibit text messaging. A new company, pMD, aims to solve this problem with a mobile app.

The app is designed to unify medical communities on a secure message system. Philippe d’Offay, founder of pMD, spoke with HCB News about the barriers in communication around patient care and how it should be solved.

HCB News: What barriers are there in communication around patient care?

PD: Text messaging has become such a widely used form of communication. However, doctors are unable to use this technology due to the regulatory barriers that are posed by the health care industry.

Communication surrounding patient care is also faced with many system barriers. Some of the most critically-ill patients see several providers at once, however, the logistics of trying to get all of these providers to talk to one another about this one patient can be challenging. They’re faced with siloed systems that don’t always talk to each other and don’t allow physicians access to be a part of the same systems.

Lastly, the lack of patient engagement is a barrier in and of itself. The communication about the patient tends to exclude the patient and their sensitive health information is being passed around them as opposed to themselves being directly involved in the conversation.

HCB News: What do you think the industry needs to do to solve this issue?

PD: The problem with health care today is that everyone is expecting the industry to solve the problem for them. pMD is a small team of less than 30 employees and we’re solving these issues without waiting for the health care industry to catch up. We’re initiating the movement rather than standing idly by.

The industry is decades behind in technology. Currently, a majority of health care communication still occurs via fax machine. The industry must shift this mindset away from antiquated forms of communication and towards embracing more modern technologies.

For example, the health care industry’s focus should not be shifting to email when the business community is already moving away from email as a form of communication.

Another approach is to allow systems to be more interoperable and decrease the amount of miscommunication that occurs by creating a clinically reconciled record, the idea of one patient, one record. This in turn directs the industry towards a more patient-centric, care coordinated mindset.

By utilizing the support network that surrounds the patient and leveraging the individuals that are working directly with both the patients and the doctors, these care teams are able to provide support for the physician and more efficient and coordinated care for the patient.

We should also strongly consider to what extent we engage with the physicians and the patients. Each doctor has a one-on-one relationship with a patient, which can be improved and modernized.

In order to do this, we must engage the physicians and provide them with the right tools they need to interact with their patients, allowing them freedom from the administrative burdens that keep them from spending time being a doctor.

The next step is to engage the patient themselves and allow them to be a part of the solution. As an industry we need to create solutions that allow the patient to engage and push that technology into full adoption by providing them with the right tools.

pMD’s success with its earliest product was primarily due to customers who were “innovators” and “early adopters” of the technology and who embraced the benefit of its use as a solution to the pitfalls of their current processes.

HCB News: How does the pMD app try to solve it?

PD: pMD’s approach is to take modern technologies that are HIPAA-compliant and automate that communication through interoperability. We also go one step beyond and have created proprietary technology.

Take for example, technology surrounding communication. With communication, there is always an element of chance involved, such as knowing whether or not that communication is sent, received or read.

Our solution to this is that we’ve created a secure messaging functionality with alerts and cascading reminders (patent pending) to ensure that nothing gets missed about sensitive patient information.

In order to begin to solve a problem, we must first understand the problem. By engaging the physicians as well as engaging with the physicians, we are able to develop the technology that is best tailored to the medical industry through our relationship with our customers.

Our software is constantly improving and evolving, due largely in part to incorporating our customers’ direct feedback. We’re innovating specifically toward health care and solving the issues that lie within health care itself.

HCB News: How are physicians responding to this app?

PD: Physicians are extremely excited about our product, which is positively reflected in the 500-plus testimonials currently shared on our website. There is no technical aptitude necessary in using our software.

When we first speak with hospitals and practices, there is often a concern about their senior providers being hesitant to use pMD, however, because our app is extremely user-friendly, those concerns quickly dissipate.

Physicians love our product because it’s truly mobile — we spend the majority of our effort and software development on our elegant and simple mobile platform. In this way, we are facilitating and accelerating communication surrounding patients.

We are breaking down communication and informational barriers by allowing physicians to capture real-time data as opposed to having to write down information that will have to be input at a later time. Providers can easily create communication networks within their medical communities to better facilitate patient information exchange.

For example, Dr. Isaac Alamuri of Plainview, New York was able to create a network of over 170 doctors, tying together all the physicians in his community that he works with as a hospitalist, by using pMD.

He shares his enthusiasm by saying that "the pMD secure messaging tool is easy, safe, and prompt. I was able to connect with my colleagues and create a secure network of over 100 providers. Creating this entire network has cost me no additional money, either. pMD secure text messaging is great!"

Our growth has been 90 percent word of mouth from our happy physicians. The sheer amount of referrals and inbound leads we receive when our providers share their positive feedback with other providers has been astounding.

HCB News: Do you think mobile apps will play a major role in tomorrow's health system?

PD: We’ve been mobile since 1998 and we know that mobile apps are most definitely playing a major role in our success. Software mobility has been a key component in the future of our company’s success and tomorrow’s health care systems.