ConsultingMD, a startup that connects patients with leading medical specialists, has raised a $10 million round of funding from Venrock Capital. The company, which launched earlier this year and previously raised $1 million from Harrison Metal, enables patients to seek second opinions from a network of top doctors, and to get referrals to specialists in their own area. With the funding, the startup said it plans to further develop its technology and build out its network of elite doctors.
In contrast to startups like ZocDoc or HealthTap, which help patients find any doctor available in their area or online, ConsultingMD bills itself as service that offers access to only the doctors in the top echelon of the medical world. These physicians – who encompass the one percent of their profession – tend to be the chiefs or chairmen of the department, with publications in the top medical journals, the company says.
“The core problem is that in the highly elite world of academic specialists… access to these people is difficult [and] patients don’t know how to find them in the first place,” said CEO and co-founder Owen Tripp, who was previously COO and co-founder of Reputation.com. The company’s other co-founder is Dr. Lawrence Hofman, chief of interventional radiology at Stanford Hospital.
Through the site, patients in need of second opinion spend a few minutes describing their case, disclosing where they’ve already received care and authorizing ConsultingMD to access their medical history. Then the startup digitizes and indexes the relevant medical records (an often frustrating and dragged-out process for patients) and delivers it to the appropriate specialist on ConsultingMD.
While it can take the company an average of seven or eight days to aggregate all the records, once the doctor receives the information, Tripp said, they the doctor can turn around a second opinion in an average of 48 hours.
For individuals coming to the site, the pricing is steep, emphasizing ConsultingMD’s positioning as an elite service – the company’s website says a second opinion costs $3,750. But the company believes its bigger opportunity is by offering the service to employers looking for a way to help their employees get better outcomes (and therefore boost productivity and lower costs).
For an additional $200, the company will also locate and schedule a priority appointment with a top specialist in a patient’s area, as well as deliver all of the necessary medical records.
For doctors, the site offers a chance to interact with other top-tier medical professionals (doctors are only admitted to the site by peer recommendation), see more cases that match their research interests and, of course, earn a little more cash. For patients, the opportunity to reach the one or two leading experts in a given field may be attractive — especially in very specific or rare medical situations. But even though the company says that outcomes for elite doctors differ substantially from outcomes for less pedigreed professionals, it’s unclear that the research backs that up.