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Durham startup iScribes aims to make health care human again (+ video)

iScribes

May, 8 2017, 11:03 AM

​Jared Pelo, founder and CEO of Durham-based iScribes, is working to make health care human again.

iScribes is a technology enabled medical service that frees physicians’ hands from computers and tablets as remote scribes use a secure app and cloud technology to complete necessary paper work.

Doctors spend an estimated 40 percent of their time documenting patient visits in electronic medical records, also referred to as EMRs. Technology and medical documentation has modernized health care, but it has also proved to be a hassle for physicians, decreasing time spent with patients and quality of care.

iScribes employs remote medical scribes to listen to doctor and patient conversations via secure mobile and cloud technology, while writing the necessary medical documentation. The scribes are properly trained to know the appropriate software, forms, medical jargon and procedures.

The company was founded in Durham, N.C., in 2014 after Pelo was asked to serve as medical director of a hospital in Farmville, Virginia. In this role, there were no medical scribes and Pelo saw the need for drastic change in the medical documentation industry.

“I realized that taking time off to pursue this idea would help tens to hundreds of thousands of people by bringing doctors better technology so they could focus on the medicine,” said Pelo, regarding taking on the additional title of CEO.

He continues to practice medicine in Virginia but sees himself transitioning into a full-time CEO in the future.

The original idea of the company stemmed from Google Glass. Doctors would wear the glasses and the remote scribes would use the audio and visual recording to complete the medical documentation. Pelo thought that freeing doctors hands of tablets and forms would increase quality and quantity of care, but the Google Glass technology had problems of its own.

The device overheated quickly, had a weak battery and security concerns transporting the data from doctor to scribe. It was only six months after this idea was pitched that the company steered away from that technology and toward the audio-only application.

The company now has an estimated $3 million in yearly revenue with 18 headquarter employees and 225 scribes.

The service provided saves doctors an average of two hours per day and allows them to better connect and communicate with patients. What the doctors do with those two hours is their own prerogative.

They can work more by treating additional patients and bringing in more revenue or they can use it for personal matters like attending kids’ soccer games. Either option will increase productivity and efficiency. The first option increases practice capacity, while the second option improves the physician’s quality of life enabling them to enhance their medical practice.

Go home earlier

Dr. Thomas A. Dimmig is the president of Emerge Ortho, formally Triangle Ortho. He manages 140 physicians and was one of the first users of iScribes.

Physicians at Emerge Ortho used to take their medical notes home and work on EMR documentation overnight or on the weekend, but now iScribes allows them to go home earlier and spend that time with friends and family.

Since starting with the company over two years ago, Dimmig and his staff have been fully satisfied with the service and have seen increased efficiency.

“When I started here, I would see on average 20 patients a day, but now with iScribes I can treat almost 30,” said Krista Bartlett, one of Dimmig’s physician assistants.

Also the scribe’s precision of work and speed of turnover has improved. “My scribe gets everything done by the next day,” added Bartlett. “The notes have gotten better and there are less errors that I have to go in and fix.”

When iScribes begins to work with practices, growth is fairly organic. Usually a couple of doctors per practice begin using the service on a trial basis directly initiated from the iScribes sales team. The other doctors in the practice notice and become interested in the service, prompting them to reach out to the company and become iScribes customers.

The company has over 200 doctors in approximately 28 orthopedic practices across the country.

On average, iScribes obtains 10 to 12 new doctors per month. This growth is also coupled with the organic growth from those contacted physicians.

Currently the company is solely focused on orthopedic practices, but they plan to expand to multiple different areas of medicine. The intent on focusing efforts in one specialization was to streamline scribe on boarding and education.

There are scribes located in 40 different states, but North Carolina has the highest concentration. Not only is the state a medical hub, but the Triangle area is also where Pelo plans to keep the company; and having scribes in the area available for leadership and managerial roles in the future is critical for the growth of the company.

An incubator for tech companies

Also, Durham is an incubator for developing tech companies with many resources available to them.

iScribes is a member of the CED network, a group of entrepreneurs, investors, strategic partners and researchers that help grow the success of the Triangle area. Some of their partners include Google, EY, Cisco, Wells Fargo, Red Hat and JPMorgan Chase.

iScribes has been featured as a Showcase Company at CED’s annual tech conferences in 2014 and 2016. These companies are given six minutes to tell their story in front of conference attendees, which include influential tech investors, tech leaders and those from emerging tech companies.

“iScribes has been a CED member since the beginning,” says Pelo. “CED gave us venture mentoring services, and has featured us at their tech conference twice. But they have helped the most by introducing us to investors.”

Since December 2014, iScribes has raised over $1.737 million in private stock offerings.

The Launch Place, another innovation hub with locations in Danville, Va., and Research Triangle Park, invested $250,000 in iScribes in March 2017. These funds are meant to further develop the company’s operational capacity, optimize the service and invest in relevant technologies.

Triangle Angel Partners II, LLC co-invested with The Launch Pad for a total of a $410,000 investment, showing how two regions in different states can help an early-stage company expand. [iScribes Tar Heels]

With continued investment and support, the scribes will become more empowered with the technology that enables them to handle a larger workload. Currently, an individual scribe can keep up with documentation for two doctors.

In five years, Pelo hopes to have a single scribe be able to manage medical documentation for up to 10 physicians.

Note: This story is from the North Carolina Business News Wire, a service of UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Media and Journalism





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