A Kansas City startup working toward a wealth of good health. How will they do it?
By Kathryn Jones
Innovative Health Media (IHM) is the newest darling of the Kansas City startup circuit. It’s a graduate of the SparkLab Accelerator program, a recipient of a Digital Sandbox grant, a resident at KU’s Bioscience & Technology Business Center, and it joined Kauffman FastTrac last month. So why is this tech firm turning so many heads? Because it could help catapult a paradigm shift in the way healthcare is delivered, all thanks to the brilliant mind of a former ER/ICU nurse.
One of the main goals of the Affordable Care Act is to transition the industry from reactive-based treatments to preventative medicine. The idea is for Americans to accept responsibility for their own health by taking advantage of free screenings that could identify red flags long before an illness requires a trip to the ER.
When CEO Charles Smith and COO David Wilson started Innovative Health Media in 2010, Smith was a contract nurse at St. Luke’s Hospital. He found that, when faced with a life-threatening situation, most folks don’t understand basic first aid training. “I found that so many people came into the ER not knowing simple things like if you put pressure on the wound, it will help stop the bleeding,” he says.
Smith wanted to create an educational DVD for ER patients, which included how to recognize the signs of a heart attack or stroke. He pitched his idea to the hospital, which liked the concept, but not enough to do it. Instead, they suggested he look into the “rapid readmissions” dilemma based on Boston University’s famed Project RED (Re-Engineered Discharge) study that revealed educating patients on self-care is the most effective way to reduce preventable readmissions.
The topic grew even hotter when Medicare doled out $227 million in fines against hospitals in every state last year based on their readmission rates. “Because of the strict guidelines for Medicare reimbursement, some practices miss the opportunity to profit from recent healthcare legislation,” Smith notes. Thus, Innovative Health Media created the electronic annual wellness visit (e-AWV) system.
“It’s a cloud-based software service that allows primary care practices to provide the annual wellness visit in a simple, efficient manner,” Smith says. “It not only saves them a lot of time and money, it also increases reimbursement. It gives the patient a comprehensive personal health record at the end of the visit and a preventative health plan.” Available online and in printed form, both the doctor and the patient have access to a single record of that patient’s healthcare through e-AWV.
Only 10 percent of Medicare patients have actually had an annual wellness visit, but Smith hopes to see that number increase as the healthcare industry continues its pursuit of preventative healthcare. “If there is a physician’s office that wants to offer an annual wellness for their patients, most practices can double the reimbursement they get from Medicare,” he points out. “And Medicare likes it because it helps catch problems before they occur.”
So far, practices in nine states are using e-AWV, and Innovative Health Media is in the process of finalizing two big contracts, one of which will put the company on the map nationally. Suffice it to say, this little startup is gearing up for some big growth opportunities. And even though Smith has put away his scrubs for good, he’ll always be a healer at heart. “My philosophy has always been to find someone’s pain and make it go away,” he says. “When you think about it, it’s a great approach to entrepreneurialism as well.”