The last time Ben Albert and Carrie Kozlowski tried to improve the way patients get health care, the focus was on what happened after patients saw the doctor.
This time, the pair are working on what happens before patients get to the doctor’s office.
Albert and Kozlowski raised $5.6 million for Upfront Healthcare Services, which makes software that helps doctors improve patient scheduling. The funding was led by Nashville Capital Network, along with Hyde Park Venture Partners, Echo Health Ventures and Martin Ventures.
After a visit is scheduled, Upfront’s algorithms help the care provider determine whether the person needs to see a doctor, physician assistant or some other caregiver. It also schedules follow-ups to make sure the patient takes care of any testing or other necessary actions before the visit.
Albert and Koslowski’s previous company, Care Team Connect, focused on helping doctors coordinate patient care after discharge. It was sold for $35 million in 2013 to Advisory Board, a health care consulting firm based in Washington, D.C.
Upfront aims to help providers improve efficiency so they can see more patients. “Practices have a lot of challenges associated with them, and their margins are shrinking,” Albert said.
The company has been working with Milwaukee-based hospital system Froedtert Health, which was a Care Team Connect customer. It’s working on a pilot program with Upfront.
Two big problems for doctors are scheduling and access to care. Patients are frustrated that it takes too long to get appointments, which can lead them to decide to go elsewhere, even after a visit is scheduled. And some providers don’t have the capacity to see all the patients who want care, a problem that will get worse as more doctors and nurses retire just as an aging population requires more medical care.
“They’re tackling both problems, applying some science to it as opposed to putting appointments on a calendar without much thought,” says Paul Spencer, vice president of managed care and revenue cycle services at Froedtert.
Upfront, launched a year ago, has eight employees, including Dr. Shannon Sims, a former Rush University Medical Center executive, and Michelle Sobel, a Jellyvision veteran who previously was at Chicago health tech companies Emmi Solutions and Analyte Health.
Originally Published in Chicago Crain’s Business by John Pletz