Visiting a doctor can be an intense experience. While there are multiple providers that handle parts of a patient’s journey, one company has a complete solution- Klara. Klara, a New York based startup providing a secure healthcare communication platform, recently raised $11.5M in its Series A funding round led by FirstMark Capital. The funding round also saw participation from existing investors such as Lerer Hippeau, Project A Ventures, and Atlantic Labs and entrepreneurs such as Zac Weinberg, Nat Turner and Vivek Garipalli.
Goderma to Klara
Simon Lorenz and Simon Bolz started off with a vision to “improve healthcare by connecting doctors and patients through software”. Leveraging on the technological changes in consumer tech, in 2013 they started ‘goderma’ to connect patients and doctors for skin related issues. The idea to focus on dermatology came from a personal experience Simon Bolz had while on vacation with his family and his one-year old daughter had rashes all over her body. Simon’s wife reached out to one of her doctor friends with an image of the rash and they were able to diagnose and find a solution in no time.
Goderma was an instant hit and had over 125,000 downloads in a year. According to Bolz, 98% of the cases were successfully diagnosed and managed. Based on their interaction with doctors, they realized a deeper solution was required with communication at its core. They rebranded and launched Klara in 2014 as a messaging platform to help facilitate communication among patients, doctors and the doctor’s team. Klara is building a network that “will become the central nervous system of healthcare connecting patients, providers and all medical professionals in one place”. Over time, Klara has expanded to cover other areas such as dentistry, family medicine, etc.
Klara’s pioneering work has been recognized and has attracted numerous awards and recognitions by Entrepreneur Magazine and others.
The Klara Platform
Klara is a one stop communication solution for doctors and patients which can be accessed upon registering. Apart from sending text messages, patients can also share files such as photos and PDF documents. This enables patients to send images of the symptoms and share lab test results.
Doctors can communicate with the patient while also making that conversation available to others such as colleagues, staff and pharmacies. The doctor is able to manage the list of those allowed in on the conversation while also sharing internal notes and messages that aren’t shared with the patient.
The features on the app and platform have organically grown as the team has been very attentive to their customers’ (doctors) requirements. From just messaging, the platform has expanded to include adding pharmacies and staff members to the conversation, sending out mass messages, voicemail integration and Google business integration.
As typing out emails for certain types of communications such appointment scheduling, billing follow ups, and insurance and photo id requests happen on a regular basis, Klara has created customizable templates helping doctors save time.
While Klara has been able to reduce phone calls by switching to text, voicemails were a pain point which they have eased. The voicemail can be integrated with the Klara app allowing the app to convert all voicemail into text and tagging them to the respective patients if the call is made through the registered number. The ‘message’ option that pops up when a business profile is viewed on google businesses has been integrated into the app to allow seamless communication. Klara has also developed their own ChatBot which can be added onto a website to help with patient engagement.
On the patient’s journey, there are pre-visit companies (WebMD) and visit facilitating companies (B2C telemedicine, Zocdoc). Klara initially inserted itself as a post visit tool and has worked its way back through the entire journey. Klara is now capable of handling visit facilitation, consultation as well as post consultation follow-ups. It is a complete solution. This is what sets it apart from its other competitors that only handle parts of the journey.
Being a HIPAA compliant product, Klara ensures highest standards and meets the regulatory requirements.
The Patient Doctor Journey
The main focus of the app is to enable a conversation between the patient and the doctor. There are many obstacles that patients and doctors face that prevent a smooth experience.
From experience, we know that visiting a doctor is an incredibly intense activity. Apart from skipping work that day, one also has to deal with traffic, parking issues, waiting and a host of other issues.
Research by a few doctors have tried to quantify this experience. The average total time per visit was found to be 121 minutes with 84 minutes of clinic time and 37 minutes spent on travel. Of the 84 minutes spent in the clinic, only 20 minutes was spent with the doctor. The cost to economy was estimated at $52 billion (2010).
Booking and scheduling appointments are also a major challenge. Patient dropouts are also a major concern due to the frictions in the existing system. Despite having access, patients are found to drop out due to the intensity of the reasons highlight above.
A medical practitioner has to deal with multiple challenges apart from the medical services s/he provides. There are operational and administrative issues that come with the practice. Scheduling and rescheduling patients, handling billings and coordination with other staff are just few of the daily challenges doctors face. All these challenges also have economic implications. For example, no shows cost anywhere between 10.7% to 23.0% of net gain for the medical facility while costing the economy $150B a year.
In the current system, patients can contact the doctor via multiple methods – the website, phone calls, emails, and messages. Klara is able to integrate all these onto their platform and streamline communication to help optimize internal and administrative challenges. Testimonials indicate that Klara has helped doctors save incredible amounts of time. One testimonial indicated savings of about 2 hours a day while another indicated Klara has helped save up to 5 minutes per patient.
The Connecting Fabric
Klara has strategically been focusing on doctors as the route to adoption. Klara is leveraging the trust quotient doctors have in the doctor-patient interaction to develop an ecosystem. Klara has also been working on institutional partnerships with organizations such as KVC Health Systems. While Klara plans to have a revenue model based on monthly subscriptions, the pricing is yet to be decided.
Klara is solving pain points on the doctors’ side as well as the patient’s side by improving the way they communicate with each other while staying within the regulatory environment. The final vision is to have a complete ecosystem from payments to pharmacies and insurance brought into the Klara ecosystem. Klara aspires to become “the connecting fabric the healthcare system so desperately needs”.