MARLBOROUGH, MA— After reacquiring Skyscape, entrepreneur Sandeep Shah and his partner Kartik Shah have added new products and have turned the company into a leading provider of decision-making tools for the healthcare industry.
In an online interview with INDIA New England News, Skyscape founder and CEO Sandeep Shah talks about how Skyscape is changing the world of secure communications among health care professionals and their patients.
Headquartered in Marlborough, MA, Skyscape Medpresso, Inc. is a premier mobile technology pioneer, with a robust technology platform to support innovative and secure medical information and tools to help make critical decisions and communicate with other healthcare providers and patients in real-time in a HIPAA-secure fashion, both at the point-of-care as well as being remote.
INDIA New England News: What is the mission of Skyscape?
Sandeep Shah: Skyscape’s mission is to connect healthcare professionals and enable them with secure communication and trusted information platform to ensure efficient & effective patient-care workflow.
INE: Skyscape initially started as a medical library for physicians on mobile devices. How has Skyscape changed?
SS: That’s right. Essentially, Skyscape’s early innovation can be thought of as a beginning of the modern mHealth apps. The ‘m’ of course stands for the mobile and Skyscape envisioned the first truly mobile-only platform for physicians. We launched our first products after successful pilots and collaboration with Apple and Boston area flagship hospitals Brigham & Women as well as Mass General Hospitals. We also partnered with world’s best publishers to bring the most trusted content at the point of care, with patents to support delivery and quick access on the mobile devices. With the partnership with over 40 medical publishers and support for the popular reference titles like Harrison’s, it was the most comprehensive medical library for physicians and other healthcare professionals.
An interesting side note to the whole journey begins at my home. I saw the struggles of my wife and her colleagues to carry information to the bedside and still remember the condensed books and pieces of papers as notes in their lab coats. It proved one thing – physicians and healthcare professionals want to get the best information to treat their patients.
Being an engineer by training, I decided to take on a mission to solve that problem. As charming as it sounds, the actual road to getting an acceptable solution was hard! Enter the early incarnations of the mobile phones. Given the state of the technology, especially the limited sizes of the device screens and limited storage capacity it was a challenge to render the information in an acceptable interface. Also, there was a need to strike a balance between the convenience and ease-of-access with the ability to provide trusted and comprehensive portfolio of information to our target audience.
And in this case my wife was our first beta user – it was a case of a demanding customer and a toughest critic! In the end this proved to be a worthwhile mission as it got more mainstream and we started enjoying a widening base of not only physicians but also a whole spectrum of healthcare providers, right from students to specialists.
INE: How has Skyscape enhanced its services?
SS: Over the years, we have always enhanced our offerings to use the best of the features offered by the evolving technology. As much as the technology shifts, the fundamental needs of how you support the on-the-go, busy professionals like physicians don’t change.
Some of the principles that we learnt a long time ago still are applicable – as in you need to retrieve the needed answer within a few seconds, and also you need to assure that you are providing information that is trusted and have a secure environment with the parties that are involved in the patient care.
INE: Why did you buy back Skyscape?
SS: After our acquisition, my partner-in-crime, Kartik Shah and I were working on our next idea, our next venture to launch. As it turned out, the parent company of Skyscape decided to move on to a slightly different market segment and wanted to divest the assets in terms of certain market segment. As it happened our next venture would benefit from such an ideal platform as a launch pad.
We were fortunate to be able to negotiate the brand, technology and the other assets including the patent and licenses for our next venture. For the last few years, we have been revamping the decision support tools with our unique smart link and cloud link technology to support the modern trends in accessing and consuming the information on the go.
We fondly refer to our company as Skyscape 2.0. And we are now ready to launch our next communication platform called Buzz that is directly applicable to our existing user base of health professionals, MDs, nurse practitioners, nurses, hospital and office staff and more.
INE: What is the next stage in Skyscape’s Journey?
SS: Our next product addresses the major issue that is causing the burnout out of exploding information and fragmented communication. Over the last few years, there has been a major spotlight on the physician burnout – according to major surveys, 46% of physicians, that’s nearly 1 in 2 are admitting to being overwhelmed by the constant need to document and haphazard communication channels.
It is estimated that physicians and related providers are spending up to 2 hours of their time for every 1 hour of patient encounters in their workday. Part of the inefficiencies range in what we call as “Out-of-band” communication, which accounts for almost 50% of their communication through fragmented channels like phones, pagers, faxes and voice messages.
We are reinventing this workflow communication by streamlining it to a single experience through Buzz. Additionally we are making it ubiquitous and universal by providing it for free to use by all healthcare professionals.
INE: Who are the initial investors in the company?
SS: The company for the most part has been self-funded and only recently we started to look for outside capital in the form of a convertible note – most of the investors in the round are angel investors – some of whom had backed us during our Skyscape 1.0 days.
INE: Do you plan to raise venture capital and why?
SS: The answer is yes. We have been able to leverage our existing team and resources very effectively to get us here. The original technology base has been well tested and the new technology that we have built is undergoing initial pilots and it looks promising.
We believe that it is time to step up our marketing efforts and get the word out in the market place to allow it to be scaled. Our vision is to make our Buzz platform universal with a very a robust set of healthcare specific features available for free to the broadest base of healthcare users. Fortunately our team has developed a fair amount of automation and scalability in our platform and processes. so, we would like to have some capital to allow us to fulfill our mission and scale in a controlled fashion.
INE: How does Skyscape platform differ from other communications channels such WhatsApp or simply texting?
SS: It is very natural to compare one communication platform with another as the fundamental modality of information is similar. In the current world of social media there is a proliferation of many apps that are designed to put an emphasis on some niche or other. So there is your out of the box text messages or SMS, there is iMessaging a flavor of what iPhone uses, Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram, and of course the Twitter. So depending upon the user’s interest they tend to gravitate towards one or the other.
Similarly, we have built our platform with the familiar foundation of the ‘chat’ paradigm, but have specifically addressed the needs of the healthcare providers. One of the biggest differentiations is the HIPAA security that is built in. None of the standard social media platforms are HIPAA compliant. Additionally, Skyscape’s buzz has taken into account the specific workflow needs of the healthcare professionals. Given our diverse knowledge library for medical professionals and specialists, we are able to offer a unique connection between the conversations and the authoritative answers with our smart link.
Given the proliferation of a variety of tools, there has been temptation amongst healthcare professionals to occasionally use text messaging or commonly available platforms like WhatsApp. We have repeatedly heard from the administrative folks in healthcare that it is a ticking time-bomb that could adversely affect the provider or the organization as far as breach of HIPAA regulations.
INE: Tell us about your Buzz platform?
SS: Buzz is Skyscape’s unified HIPAA-secure Medical Messenger. It enables a secure and trusted network between healthcare professionals to support streamlined and encrypted communication using simple text, images, reports and video sharing. Additionally, we allow dictations, auto-transcribed audio messages and independent virtual phone numbers for making outgoing calls to patients or even getting inbound calls via this number that protects your personal cell phone numbers. There are many more features to create dynamic groups, role-based messages, secure memory vaults, transition between multiple organizations that the user could be a part of.
Buzz available on mobile devices such as iPhones, iPads, Android based phones, tablets as well as on the Web via the standard browsers such as Google Chrome. Our users can seamlessly transition between these devices and still have instant availability of all their communication features as well as the history.
The use cases span across the healthcare delivery spectrum – small & large clinics, hospitals, rehab centers, Nursing homes, Pharmacies, Health and Hospice providers, Clinical trials and more.