Kelley physician MBA creates app to improve patient health

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Dr. Saurin Patel began his studies at the Kelley School of Business Physician MBA Program as a pulmonary disease specialist. He’s graduating the program an entrepreneur.

It all began with an idea.

Since joining the Kelley Physician MBA Program, Dr. Patel, MBA’17, openly talks about the changes in healthcare: From how physicians and hospitals are reimbursed, to the increasing business roles physicians need to fulfill to improve patient quality while reducing costs. Change moves quickly in the highly regulated healthcare industry.

“Healthcare is moving towards reimbursing physicians, as well as hospitals, based on the value of care they provide,” said Dr. Patel, former chief medical officer at North Memorial Health Care in Minnesota.

“To curb rising medical costs, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) introduced Chronic Care Management (CCM) in 2015. The idea is CMS will begin rewarding physicians to do CCM, as it comprises about 91% of CMS’ budget,” Dr. Patel added.

This change incentivizes healthcare providers to begin providing quality CCM services.

The American College of Physicians defines CCM as the non-face-to-face services provided to Medicare beneficiaries who have multiple chronic conditions. CCM clinicians are expected to establish an electronic care plan that addresses the medical needs of a patient, while being accessible 24 hours a day to patents and any care provider they may see.

To put it lightly, CCM can be tiresome work for a physician; however, its ultimate purpose is to better manage a patient’s chronic condition while cutting costs.

That’s when the idea came to Dr. Patel.

The Kelley Physician MBA Program taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to, and that has come to fruition.

Saurin Patel, MD, MBA'17

After some discussion between members of his Kelley Physician MBA cohort, it clicked. Dr. Patel would build an app to ease the transition for physicians moving from a fee-for-service model towards value-based care.

Just like that, Vital Health Links was born.

“From the patients’ standpoint, Vital Health Links is all about engaging them in their care,” said Dr. Patel.

“The Vital Health Links app can track how many steps the patient has taken and what his vitals look like. By making this data visible, a physician can intervene before the patient’s condition truly declines,” Dr. Patel said.

“We created a patient portal that makes health quality data visible to patients. We want to make sure we can provide patients with their medical records and that we can track their appointments. In addition, patients will have access to transcribed reports with their doctors.”

And for the physicians, the Vital Health Links app is all about making their jobs more efficient, while providing better healthcare to their patients.

“Vital Health Links is making quality care gaps visible to the practice and physician, and it’s facilitating risk calculators so the physician can understand the patient’s future risk of developing chronic diseases. It’s about making communication easier,” Dr. Patel said.

The Kelley Physician MBA gave me confidence.

As of the end of 2016, Dr. Patel had six practices interested in Vital Health Links. He applauds the Kelley Physician MBA Program for his success, saying he never could have imagined he’d one day become an entrepreneur.

“The Kelley Physician MBA Program gave me the tools to properly evaluate a business’ potential, the market, how to approach a business plan, how to review balance sheets and how to manage finances,” Dr. Patel said.

Learning the intricacies of business was only the foundation for Dr. Patel. In fact, he commends his fellow classmates as one of the pillars to his entrepreneurial success.

“I was able to show the Vital Health Links app to many of my classmates and get their professional input on the functionality and viability of the product,” Dr. Patel said of his cohort. “Being able to put their collective minds together creates an opportunity for someone to gain a tremendous depth of knowledge.”

During his time in the Kelley Physician MBA Program, Dr. Patel has created a software program, a plan, a network of professionals and momentum that will carry his success in the years to come.