Ask any relationship guru, communication is key to any relationship. While most people think this only applies to a romantic relationship, it is just as true for a doctor/patient relationship as well. Klara, the healthcare messaging app understands this and delivers the the platform you need to manage relationships between healthcare providers and patients. Features include being able to send test results right away, a messaging platform to ask and answer questions; all in a HIPAA-compliant way. With the ability for those along the healthcare chain to use the platform like therapists, billers, and pharmacists, the platform is dynamic, user-friendly, and incredibly efficient.
AlleyWatch chatted with cofounder Dr. Simon Lorenz about the company and how they plan to change the client-doctor relationship.
Tell us about the product or service.
Klara is a messaging application for healthcare professionals and patients. It goes beyond patients, to interconnect the entire healthcare experience – people to people. Klara is an app for web browser and iOS, healthcare providers, professionals (such as pharmacists, billers or therapists), and office staff can sign up for Klara. Klara is a more efficient way of communicating than phone or email.
How is it different?
Klara is different because we are taking a concept that is traditionally used in a casual social level, and applying it to a large industry sector. It’s a bold move that pays off in the form of higher levels of patient satisfaction, better care outcomes (likelihood a patient adheres to a treatment regimen, access to the doctor for any follow-up questions), and more operational efficiency (for example, daily time spent on the phone reduced by at least 1 hour with offices that use Klara, according to a recent survey).
Klara also provides modern features such as push notifications and read receipts on messages.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
The market we are targeting for now are physicians in the US on a broad scale. There are about 900,000 active physicians in the US as of September 2016. Our current initiative is to concentrate on group practices in the NYC-Metro and surrounding area. We find that having a geo-centric focus will facilitate the network effect of the platform.
We do however welcome therapists, behavioral health counselors, specialty pharmacies, billers, consultants, among other alternative healthcare professionals to join Klara if it makes sense for operations.
What is the business model?
The business model we have currently is growth-focused. We charge per provider per month, only certified medical providers. That means, the practice can have unlimited medical support and staff on the platform. We also allow for unlimited messages and support. We plan to release additional opt-in features that we will charge a fee to use. With creating a network, there is potential for further monetization and partnerships as we increase our reach.
What inspired the business?
My co-founder Simon Bolz was on vacation with his family. Out of the blue, his daughter had shown symptoms of a skin rash while they were abroad. They were out of the country, and away from their primary care doctors. Bolz’ wife works in healthcare, and quickly texted a doctor friend a picture of the rash and questions regarding care. They followed the instructions and his daughter’s problem was solved, all without having to disrupt the vacation.
This story, like many we can relate to, describes how disruptive scheduling medical appointments, asking questions and managing health can be in a busy life.
Bolz was inspired to make healthcare an easy, connected experience. He likes to call Klara the “Central Nervous System of Healthcare.”
Do medical professionals really want to be available to communicate with their patients via messages?
You would think that medical professionals would want as little contact as possible, but that is not the case. What we have established is a way for messages to be organized, assigned and prioritized by the provider and staff. If a case is urgent, a doctor can be “tagged” in the message (similar to social media tagging) to get a notification that this requires an instant response. The Klara inbox is made for triaging communication.
We have actually found that patients rarely abuse the service and over 75% of users surveyed agreed that adding Klara actually decreases workload for themselves and their staff/coworkers.
Doctors also use Klara to refer patients, and collaborate on a patient case without having to pick up the phone. This is huge for doctors and even pharmacists.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
Our plan is to close the NY market and start in at least one other area. We already have a high presence and we would like solidify this over the coming months.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
Have a laser-sharp focus on what you are trying to achieve – knowing that focus is about prioritizing on the important, not about getting rid of the unimportant.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
The CEO of ZocDoc and/or Oscar for doing a great job of disrupting the healthcare industry with their very targeted startups.
Why did you launch in New York?
High customer density, good public transport to reach clients in a fast way, growing technology hub, good talent pool.
Where is your favorite fall destination in the city?
My ideal place in fall would be somewhere outside in the countryside playing sports. So, in the city it would have to be one of the parks like Central Park. It reminds me of the countryside of my home in Germany where I grew up.