Board-certified in internal medicine and nephrology, Julien Pham is one of the co-founders of the start-up RubiconMD, an innovative web and mobile platform that connects primary care physicians to a network of top specialists for e-consults.
MedicalExpo: When was RubiconMD created and how does it work?
Julien Pham: RubiconMD was born at a pitch during a Hackathon organized by MIT about two and a half years ago. What we do is that we connect primary care physicians with a network of specialists for remote opinion. The whole idea is to help general practitioners when they have questions that they cannot find an answer to and need access to a specialist.
It is a fully secured platform where you can write a quick little case, upload any information you need as images, PDFs, electrocardiograms and then submit it. We match the case to the best-fit and available specialists and the specialists can respond whenever it’s convenient for them. We have now a network of 120 specialists and about a hundred practitioners. Our customers are the primary care physicians.
ME: How long does it take to get a response from a specialist?
JP: We promise that we can get a response back within twelve business hours but on average it is within two or three hours. Our system is similar to the Uber model : we send a request to a specialist and he can accept or decline the case; when he declines the case, it goes to the next specialist; when he accepts it, he has a certain amount of time to response. By doing that we really optimize the timing for the response. Our specialists are extremely qualified and all highly trained, many of them are director of clinical divisions.
“We are trying to optimize the visits”
ME: What are the advantages for the specialists and for the patients?
JP: We pay the specialists every time they respond, this is a flexible way for them to get extra money. Also, many times patients that are being referred to a specialist don’t show up. There is a loss of time and revenue for the specialist, so we are trying to optimize the visits.
For the patient, if a person lives in a rural area and the closest specialist is two or three hours away, it is not convenient for him or her to drive there for a low-value visit so the person would much prefer to go see a specialist when it is truly necessary.
ME: Do you intend to expand outside the United States?
JP: We are now in 19 states in the country and our long-term goal is to expand globally, first in the U.S. and then eventually grow to Latin America, Europe, Asia