Q&A: Seamless Medical’s David Perez is Giving the Physician Waiting Room a 2.0 Update
October 14th, 2013
Posted by Ken Walz
David Perez is the founder and CEO of Seamless Medical Systems, a New Mexico-based company that developed cloud-based patient-engagement platforms that integrate electronic medical records (EMRs) and other health data to create a complete health profile for any patient. SNAP® Practice, a Seamless product, engages a patient starting with registration in the waiting room, extending to the exam room while connecting patients and practice via any mobile device outside of the office. Popper and Company’s Ken Walz interviewed Perez about Seamless Medical Systems and what he sees ahead in the future of healthcare technology.
Could you give us an overview of Seamless, and tell us what made you want to start the company?
I was a patient in the waiting room, with a clipboard and six paper forms, filling out my name, address, and phone number six times. This was information that I had filled out six or seven months before. I was frustrated with how antiquated the process was. People were watching TV without sound, and looking at five-year-old magazines. Meanwhile, I had an iPhone in my lap.
I thought, I could fill out all this information for the forms in my handheld device and digitally transfer that to my Electronic Medical Record, and not have any mistakes from errors in reading handwriting. Everybody who has experienced the clipboard hates it. It’s so 19th century.
I’ve been in digital marketing for 24 years and saw another opportunity. There were about 20 people in the waiting room of a medical office, individuals in a contextually relevant setting. What were they going to talk about to the doctor? What questions would they have? They were in the mindset of a patient while they sat in the waiting room so more apt to want to learn about their health condition. The only competition for that mindset was their smart devices, old magazines and a TV on the wall with the sound shut off.
I thought, I could use the patient’s demographic and health information to provide content unique to their needs. The information would be engaging because it’s on the iPad and it’s specific to my needs, to my child or loved one’s needs, and while we are in the doctor’s office.
Smart phones are everywhere. The number of vendors in this area is huge. Where do you see this market going?
Once I had the epiphany in the waiting room, I did some research. And yes, I found hundreds of EMR vendors. Enormous resources are spent on the staff of a medical facility who work behind the front desk. But nobody addressed the patient. So, bringing information through smart devices is all part of the transition of the practice of medicine from being doctor centric to patient centric. Technological advances are certainly available to the doctor and his team. Meanwhile, patients were left with quill and parchment.
For vendors designing EMRs, their customers are the staff of the practice – not the patients. These companies want to work with us, because we are focused on engaging the patients. Our strategy has been to integrate with as many EMRs as possible, and address patients in multiple ways. A patient could have multiple healthcare providers, each with different digital systems. So that could mean dealing with four or five different portal logons, and an inability to go to one place to access health information. We’re working to change that, giving patients one place to access all of their health information, SNAP.
What will a patient look like in five years? How much of a difference will the “quantified self” concept make?
Let’s look at another industry that went through this change: financial services. In the early 80s I was a broker for Dean Witter Reynolds. It was a paper-intensive industry, but now it’s all digital. That’s been a tremendous transformation. Now the customer has knowledge, access to his or her financial data and a higher level of financial literacy. Why did financial institutions do this? Because customers will buy more financial products. I see the same changes in healthcare environments – empowerment of healthcare consumers with information to help improve their health and wellness.
Healthcare is in the transition from physician-centric to patient-centric. When my Dad was a doctor from the 1960’s to 1980’s, healthcare revolved around the doctor. The doctor’s word was gospel. The first wave of disruption was the Internet, opening up access to knowledge for consumers/patients. That empowerment isn’t going to stop.
On the issue of “quantified self,” these personal health tracking and measurement devices can be faddish but over time this technology will play a critical role. One area likely to benefit is the management of chronic disease patients. These consumers of healthcare will participate in the management of their condition in ways previously not possible, e.g. like being able to measure glucose on a continuous basis and providing one’s doctor with real-time access to that data. This will change the nature of the doctor-patient relationship, away from episodic and toward regular maintenance. Interactions between provider and patient must extend beyond walls of the clinic. Technology will make that happen.
How will the healthcare industry be restructured?
With the Affordable Care Act, many more individuals will re-enter the healthcare system who didn’t have access before. We will have tens of millions of new patients but not millions of new providers to serve them. The system will need an increase in efficiency, and technology-based solutions will play a big role. We will see more care in retail locations, like the pharmacy and retail based clinics that are the fastest growing sector of healthcare.
As consumers, we’re likely to become more involved in handling our own well-being. We’ve been seeing that happen with the search for holistic care, complementary therapies, to supplement what patients receive from an MD. Technology and access to information on smart devices will pay a huge role in that, too.
Our Q&A with David Perez is the first entry in a regular series of posts we’ll be publishing that offer insights from innovative thought leaders impacting health care. Be sure to follow us on Twitter or on LinkedIn, or sign up via “Our News” on our website to receive our monthly email newsletter so that you won’t miss a future post.
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