Thursday, October 20, 2011

Connecting Doctors, Helping Patients: The Story Behind QuantiaMD

The following is from the ACPE update (I'll be speaking with Eric on a panel discussion at the ACPE Fall Institute and I hope to see you there):

Eric Schultz was at an investors’ party for his new company, Quantia Communications Inc., when he met the man who would redefine the organization’s mission.

The man was Dr. Leon Smith Sr., an infectious disease specialist and a pioneer in AIDS diagnosis and treatment.

Smith suggested Quantia be re-created to address what he believes are the two biggest problems in medicine:
  • Doctors need to find a way to get ahead of all the information with which they are bombarded. To do this, someone needs to re-instate the collaborative, fraternal elements of medicine that are being driven out by time and pressure.
  • Patients need to be more involved in their care.
With those simple words, QuantiaMD was reborn. Today it is the country’s largest physican-to-physician online learning collaborative with more than 125,000 registered users. The site offers presentations by physician experts and allows doctors to share ideas with their peers. Earlier this year, ACPE joined QuantiaMD to create a series on overcoming disruptive physician behavior. Click here to listen.

Participants in the ACPE Fall Institute will get the opportunity hear Schultz speak as part of the Implementers Panel, held Monday, November 7 at 4:45 p.m. The session is free and open to all participants.

Schultz has always had an interest in health care. He was a pre-med major as an undergraduate at Harvard but realized medicine wasn’t the career for him after spending time with a resident.

“I realized I didn’t have the guts for it,” he said. “I was good in the known world of engineering. But with the amount of uncertainty and the different pressures that doctors face, I didn’t think I could perform well.”

So Schultz focused on engineering and computers instead. He built a software company and sold it to IBM, then built another and sold it to Microsoft. But he always retained his interest in medicine.

He credits Smith with not only helping to create QuantiaMD but also guiding the staff through a mini med school and recruiting members of the organization’s advisory board. This physician-centered approach makes QuantiaMD very different from other social media outlets, such as Facebook or Twitter.

“We wanted to use technology to re-enable interpersonal connections and establish the intimacy that’s being driven out of medicine,” he said. “We’re here to provide not just a strong social platform, but also an educational platform.”

As part of this goal, QuantiaMD will provide forums for doctors to hold HIPPA-compliant online conversations. The forums, called Q-space, will be heavily encrypted and password-protected and allow doctors to privately discuss anything from patients consults to presentations they plan to make to their associations.

Now QuantiaMD is attempting to address one of the biggest and most persistent problems in medicine: patient compliance. Schultz said one of their most frequent requests was a way to keep patients engaged after they leave their doctors’ offices.

“When they’re face-to-face, doctors have a good channel with their patients,” Schultz said. “But it’s the other 363 days out of the year when they don’t see their patients and need help engaging and educating and keeping that patient excited and adherent.”

So Quantia created a series of applications that can be used on the web and on mobile devices that are designed to help patients follow best practices. For example, an application called Eat Smart helps patients keep track of their diet and offers nutritional advice. Another, Diabetes Tracker, helps diabetes patients monitor their treatment. Doctors who are QuantiaMD members can enroll their patients by simply entering their patients' names and cell phone numbers.

Schultz said it’s all part of building QuantiaMD into the vision sketched out by Dr. Smith: serving doctors and the patients they treat.

“If you don’t have something that focuses the discussion, something provocative, it’s almost like having a stadium where there’s no game or concert,” Schultz said.

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