Three businessmen create a website to assist with scheduling medical appointments [Herald-Journal, Spartanburg, S.C.]
(Herald-Journal (Spartanburg, SC) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 06--The days of patients leafing through the phone book for physician practices or perusing online search engines might soon be at an end.
Three local entrepreneurs are developing a new website they believe will ease patient frustrations and strengthen the care offered by doctors' offices by helping them operate more smoothly.
Jim Ness, Michael Roberts and Max Gillespie have developed MyDocTime, an online directory and scheduling tool that allows patients to search for doctors by their city, specialty and the type of insurance they accept.
The founders are working to improve their concept, which they described as a combination of the "Yelp" and "Travelocity" of health care, at The Iron Yard's inaugural digital health accelerator in downtown.
"It's as easy as ordering a pizza," said Ness, a Clemson University football standout in the 1970s and current owner of Sunny Slope Farms in Gaffney. "We designed it to be that way. We wanted it to be a resource for patients and doctors, providing tools that improve experience and health care delivery."
The site's scheduler allows patients to view a doctor's availability online and select an appointment that fits their schedule. The doctor's office will confirm the appointment via e-mail, and the patient can even choose to get on a waiting list for an earlier time.
Doctors and patients have complete access to their profiles, which they can customize. Patients can search for doctors anywhere in the country, make prescription requests, create a favorites page, get reminders, download new patient forms and better communicate with their doctors.
The founders said it's also a great marketing tool for doctors that can save on advertising costs.
The founders said they believe MyDocTime will not only make the process of finding a doctor easier, but doctors and their staff will be freed up to focus on patient care. And they think the service will help drive down one of the biggest problems for physicians -- the patient no-show.
"On the doctor's side, we're looking at improving three things: people, time and money," said Gillespie, who also serves as president of Spartanburg-based Air Quality Assurance LLC. "It makes your people more efficient. Your time is the most valuable thing because you can't get it back. This will drive new patients to your practice."
The founders said their concept is similar to the free service ZocDoc. The difference is that service targets what they called "NFL cities" (big metropolitan areas).
"We looked at it and said let's go in and focus on the communities that don't have access to this kind of program," Gillespie said.
MyDocTime is free for patients. Doctor's offices can sign up for a membership that costs $250 per month. The founders are currently using a 200-person call center in Rock Hill to handle their communications.
They plan on growing the company, making it available in all 50 states, with their headquarters in Spartanburg County.
Last weekend, Gillespie and Roberts flew to San Francisco with the nine other Iron Yard teams to present at the annual Health 2.0 conference.
Ness said the presentations went well, and the company was able make important connections and glean some good leads for potential investors.
Open enrollment started this week for the Affordable Care Act. With the bill's full implementation approaching on Jan. 1, the owners said they believe their company will benefit from it.
South Carolina is one of the 36 states that turned over operation of its exchanges to the federal government. In other states that have set up exchanges, there is confusion concerning what hospital systems and practices are accepting patients from which exchanges.
Ness said MyDocTime will put each and every exchange on its searchable database, allowing patients to figure out where they can go to get their health care.
"With all of the confusion, I think it's going to be an asset for us because people will be able to search for that information," he said.
Roberts, originally from Greenville, is serving as the company's developer. He spent much of his career in the telecommunications industry before deciding to start his own web hosting business.
Ness and Roberts had worked on several consulting projects together. Roberts said he saw the idea for ZocDoc and liked it, but he determined there was plenty of room for another concept to serve smaller cities.
"The more I looked at it, I thought I might have something," Roberts said. "I called Jim and told him I saw an opportunity there. He agreed. Now we're at the point where it's up to us to execute."
Roberts and Ness enlisted Gillespie, who has worked on five startups in his career.
"I'm not comfortable when I'm sitting still," Gillespie said. "It's kind of masochistic. It drives my wife crazy, but it's just an itch I have."
With Ness's diverse business background, Roberts' technical abilities and experience, and Gillespie's entrepreneurial savvy, the founders believe they have what it takes to compete.
Roberts said the "ever-evolving" site is friendly for all types of devices and operating systems. He is working on a mobile app that could be available soon.
The founders said they have been pleased with their decision to take part in the accelerator.
"The goal is not just to grow companies, but to build a digital health ecosystem in Spartanburg," Gillespie said. "It's a tremendous opportunity for us and a tremendous opportunity for this community."
For more information, visit: www.mydoctime.com.
Coming next week, officers for San Francisco-based 3Scan will talk about their company's development of automated microscopy tools and software for large-scale tissue analysis.
(c)2013 the Spartanburg Herald-Journal (Spartanburg, S.C.)
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