When ISE Junior Michael Rosenberg isn’t studying for his classes, he’s most likely in his 16th-floor office in downtown Raleigh, slowly but surely revolutionizing the healthcare industry. In the fall of 2015, Rosenberg gathered students across NC State to create Medicom, a peer-to-peer network that exchanges health information between patients, providers, payers and academics to drastically reduce the cost of healthcare and improve care quality.
FIXING EXISTING SYSTEMS
At an event for Chancellor Randy Woodson, Rosenberg told the crowd he knew ISE was a perfect fit from the moment he stepped onto campus. He started asking himself, “What kinds of systems are inefficient? Why are these systems wasteful? What systems are worth improving?”
Raised in Tucson, Arizona, Rosenberg watched as his father, an oncologist, struggled with the inefficiencies of sharing patient data, and more specifically, the process of repeat imaging as doctors across disciplines lacked a straightforward method to exchange tests and images. This process was not only costly to the insurance providers, but also detrimental to the patients’ health. According to the American College of Radiology, 25 percent of cancer patients experience disease progression due to repeat imaging.
Moreover, the cost of repeat imaging exceeded $20 billion per year to the taxpayer, according to the Centers for Medicaid Services.
Rosenberg set out to answer his questions. He began a journey to modernize the healthcare system, as well as improve patient care, all through industrial systems engineering. “This was one of the rare occasions where decreasing expenses actually benefits the patients,” he said.
With drive and determination, Rosenberg took advantage of the Entrepreneurship Initiative to bring together students from the engineering school, the design school, the business school and from CHASS to create Medicom.
Medicom offers software as a service (SaaS) for healthcare systems, payers, health information exchanges and hospitals. Thanks to a loophole in HIPAA created by a 2009 regulation under The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Medicom’s peer-to-peer network bypasses regulations and significantly reduces the cost of patient file sharing. This peer-to-peer network sidesteps the previous process of sending information through several third party channels—usually at a steep price—before relaying it to the intended recipient. Medicom suggests the same process through a Virtual PrivateNetork (VPN) would cost upwards of $238,600 annually, almost 10 times more expensive than Medicom’s price of $24,000 annually.
Not only is Medicom’s service more cost effective, it also provides encryption to ensure secure file transfer without saving the data to a third party server. To Rosenberg, the process is simple. “We’re like a phone operator for medical information,” he said. “We’re not listening to the call; we’re just connecting the information to the right party.”
Medicom is garnering plenty of attention, most recently from the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). In March, Rosenberg traveled to Washington, DC, to present Medicom’s business concept to the NAE on behalf of NC State, one of 15 schools chosen from a pool of 150 to participate. Impressed, the jurors selected Medicom to represent the University—and the United States—at NAE’s Global Grand Challenges Summit this July.
Today, Medicom provides three core products: ImageX, Endpoint and Hex. But Rosenberg is not done yet.
This spring, he and his fellow students-turned-entrepreneurs are heading into their second round of investor seed funding. They hope the funding will allow Medicom to expand not only its staff, but its product line and attract more buyers. Its current clientele include the VA Hospitals and McKesson among its list of more than 1,000 organization level clients across the nation.
Rosenberg spends the majority of his time with Medicom, and despite his class schedule, he doesn’t see himself slowing down anytime soon. Medicom’s innovative process will attract payers and providers across the country whose bottom line is to reduce costs. He hopes to bring Medicom to the market and give a private offering of the company in three years, while most of his peers will be beginning their entry-level jobs.
“Hopefully we’ll get acquired!” he added. “Then after that, who knows?”