By Deanna Pogorelc, MedCity News
It happens all the time. People Google a physician and find one website that states he is an optometrist while another states he is an ophthalmologist. Or, it states he is located at an old address.
This kind of inconsistent or outdated information about physicians causes mistrust in patients, according to the founders of the digital health startup Treatspace, who are taking it upon themselves to create a trusted place for patients to get information about doctors.
On Treatspace, physicians create a professional profile — much like they would do on LinkedIn — with verifiable facts about their practice. According to Matt Stadler, PhD, one of the company’s co-founders, details about the process and technology that Treatspace uses to verify that users are in fact the physicians they claim to be are still confidential but are a critical differentiator for the company.
Doctors can share their Treatspace identity with their patients directly, and patients can also invite their existing physicians to the site. Patients can then “follow” physicians to get updates, and the team is also building a HIPAA-compliant direct communication system, Stadler said.
“Our primary objective is to strengthen the existing relationships between physicians and their patients,” Stadler said. “A search function aimed at finding a new physician is not an initial value point. Doctor participation in the system is by choice, not by aggregation and auto-filling of profiles.”
A second set of features on the site is in alpha mode but is being kept on the down low for now, according to Stadler, who described them just as tools that strengthen the relationship on-line between physicians and patients.
“We’re doing proactive reputation management,” Stadler said. “All of the products and services that we are doing are transparent and maintain trust.”
The site is currently in a public beta mode and has secured its first paying customers. Those paying customers are physicians who want premium services beyond the most basic functions of the site, which are free to users.
A huge part of the company’s focus, Stadler said, came as a result of participating in Startup Weekend Pittsburgh, at which the team took home the top prize. Since then, Treatspace has joined AlphaLab, a Pittsburgh incubator.
The next milestone will be opening a seed round of financing to grow the team and transition from beta testing to release, Stadler said. So far, the company has received some capital from the incubator but has otherwise been bootstrapped. Both co-founders are repeat entrepreneurs — Rick Cancelliere has a background in medical marketing and Web, and Stadler is a chemist by training.
They’re working in a hot space, alongside secure digital communication providers like DocBookMD and Doctor Connect, but are hoping their focus on providing good information and enabling trust will give them an edge.
“We are positioning the value around the nature of the interactions and features, not around the volume of system users,” Stadler said.
This article, which first appeared Aug. 8, 2012, was reprinted from MedCityNews.com with permission from MedCity Media.
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