As with most big ideas, the idea behind Little Rock's Phyzit was hatched when Arkansas Children's Hospital pediatric urologist Stephen Canon realized there had to be a better way.
Canon was frustrated with the lack of communication between doctors and patients and set out to improve transitional care management (TCM).
He and his dad Michael, an attorney and former mayor of Midland, Texas, launched the Phyzit app to enable doctors and patients to communicate post-visit via telemedicine and mobile messaging.
In addition, Phyzit addresses other problems associated with TCM:
- Poor utilization of TCM coding;
- TCM reimbursement hassles;
- Overburdened physicians' staffs.
The app, developed for iOS, has been beta tested by Dr. Brad Bibb in Ash Flat. Bibb, a family practice physician, reported additional revenue of $1,400 a month using the app and his patients' hospital readmissions were cut by 50 percent. The Phyzit team believes its app, Phyzit TCM, can generate additional revenue of $1,000 to $2,000 a month per primary care provider.
"Phyzit allows our practice to track the TCM process more efficiently," said Bibb's office manager, Malinda Goodman.
Other offices agree. Phyzit, which started marketing the product in February, now is being used by 58 doctors in 11 offices across Arkansas with negotiations pending in Texas, Tennessee and Massachusetts.
Stephen Canon said the health-care sector has been behind the curve in terms of adopting new technology, especially in areas such as TCM where inherent obstacles can make the process a frustrating one for both patients and health-care providers.
“In today's healthcare, we must utilize all the tools available to be efficient and still maintain the level of care our patients deserve," said Zana Johnson, care manager for the Family Clinic of Ashley County in Crossett, which is using Phyzit TCM. "That’s what Phyzit TCM does. It makes my job easier without all the stress, so I can concentrate on my patients and their needs."
The cloud-based app does it by tracking patients through the TCM process while providing providers and clinical staff with reminders of important dates and other metrics associated with a patient’s care that must be met in order to bill properly. It supplies patient and provider with HIPAA-compliant instant messaging and video conferencing.
Phyzit's quick external growth has necessitated internal growth. Michael and Stephen serve as president and chief medical officer, respectively. They brought on Keith Moore, former Baptist Health VP who received his Master's degree in health service administration at UAMS, to serve as full-time CEO, and Stewart Whaley is the chief privacy officer. Whaley, a longtime software engineer at Children’s, and HIPAA compliance expert, also has a law degree.
Rounding out the team are Honor Canon, treasurer, a pediatric physician and Stephen's wife; L.J. Wilson, mobile/iOS development adviser; and development assistant Aaron Pilkington, whose father and grandfather were both hospital administrators in Arkansas.
Moving forward, the Phyzit team is developing a tool for chronic care management (CCM), looking at strategic partnerships with online health-care marketplaces such as Athena Health, integrating with other systems such as Arkansas SHARE health information exchange, and quite simply, getting into more doctors’ offices.
Stephen Canon believes it’s simply a matter of getting through the front door.
“We believe we’ve got a 90 percent chance of selling if we can get into an office,” he said. “But getting into offices is hard.”
Launching a startup hasn’t been easy for a full-time practicing physician either. Canon admits that there’s “almost nothing in common” between running a startup and running a medical practice.
“Medicine practice is exciting, but it’s a very slow pace,” he said. “Running a startup is like raising triplets.”
Phyzit has taken advantage of the multiple startup resources now available in Arkansas, many of them provided by Innovate Arkansas. Other significant input came from Jeff Stinson of Fund for Arkansas’ Future and UALR TechLaunch, serial entrepreneur/investor Kristian Andersen of Conway, and Jeff Fox of the Circumference Group.
“We’ve used every startup resource we could find,” Canon said. “Along the way, we’ve learned how to build a business and gotten critiqued but learned that we’re solving a problem.”
Moore said Phyzit indeed solves a specific problem.
“We realized nobody is doing this,” he said. “No one had created a software solution around TCM.”
Plus, Moore said the Phyzit app enables the team to “do something that’s fun and exciting and that can impact people.”
So far, Phyzit is proving to be all of those things: fun, exciting, impactful. Canon foresees more growth ahead.
“You have to be passionate and leverage every resource available,” Canon said. “But it’s really exciting and really stimulating. Things are constantly evolving and changing, and I know we can have a big impact if we’re successful.”