You stop by your local urgent care facility and the wait is estimated at over an hour— which quickly turns into two, maybe more. If only there was a way to proceed with your day and be alerted when your appointment is coming up. Well, your wish is Clockwise.MD‘s command: this startup’s virtual queue management software holds your spot in line and sends you live updates on wait times.
Clockwise.MD’s leaders, also Venture Atlanta alumni, say that if on-demand food delivery apps can estimate to the minute how long it will be until your dinner arrives, that same principle should be applied to healthcare. Their software is already used at over 1,300 urgent cares and ERs, including Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Patients skip the wait and the healthcare facility gets better ratings and patient retention. Win-win.
But this startup is not all work, no play. Take a look at their adorable About page featuring employees’ pets. “We’re very dog friendly, says CEO Mike Burke. “Our folks really like to have a lot of fun.”
Burke talks to Hypepotamus about the importance of validating your idea, his best funding advice and what’s next for the medtech startup.
How did you come up with the idea for Clockwise.MD?
I got an idea from one of my friends who is a cardiologist: he had this idea about going to a restaurant and knowing how long before your food would be ready. I said, I think it might be more compelling if you can take the kernel of that idea and apply it to healthcare. I went to a startup weekend event, recruited a couple of young engineers to join the team and did the nights and weekends thing for a little while.
We looked at other industries that have made substantial progress in customer experience and we tried to apply those concepts to healthcare. Healthcare traditionally has not been a customer service-driven industry until very recently and it’s still in its very early stages of having that sort of customer focus.
Once you had that idea kernel, how did you validate your idea?
We were pretty big advocates of the Lean Startup Methodology approach. Our break was when we signed for a medical trade show in the urgent care industry. It generated a lot of attention and we got quite a number of leads. From that one show, very early on, we got about five or six decent-sized customers. We needed those early customers to help us not only refine the product and learn what features it needed, but also how to pitch it and communicate to prospective customers what impact it could have on their business.
You raised a round in late 2015 after being self-funded. What’s your current funding situation?
I provided the initial funding for the company from the sale of my previous company and that took us through most of 2014. Once we decided we wanted to scale, we brought in a few angel investors. By that point, we were already sort of toying with the cash flow process; we’ve been a really capital efficient company from the very beginning and haven’t brought in a lot of outside investments.
I think it’s always best to avoid taking outside investment whenever you possibly can for a couple of important reasons. One obvious reason is it allows you to keep control of your company. For example, our outside investor has been a fantastic partner and they’ve been very helpful to us, but we still largely control the company.
What’s your pitch to both the patient and the facility?
Clockwise lets you skip the wait in the waiting room. It will allow you to make a reservation or an appointment from the web (on the clinic’s web app, for example) and then it will keep you up to date for when you need to come into the facility via text message. It’s what we call a virtual queue.
It’s based on the psychology of waiting: that is, patients dislike waits of an uncertain duration and they dislike waits that they perceive as unfair. With Clockwise, we are able to remove both the uncertainty and the possible perception of unfairness and that typically makes people much, much more satisfied. Not only with their waiting experience, but with the entire experience. It’s the same concept that’s applied for example at Disney World.
What’s your revenue model?
It’s a simple monthly subscription. It varies depending on the volume of the company. Our customers range from small single provider clinics all the way up to some of the largest health systems in the country. As you can imagine, there’s great variability in the pricing involved.
What’s next for Clockwise.MD?
Our initial success was in on-demand care, which includes primarily your local urgent care. As we established success in that area, we’ve been able to expand into the more traditional areas of the health system and to other areas of the hospital. For example, the scheduled business that might occur with primary care or pediatrics. We’ve also gotten pretty big into delivering post-visit customer satisfaction surveys and then, with the data we received from those surveys, we not only validate the wait time product but also provide our customers with an entirely different sort of insight into the patient experience.