Rx for better after-hospital care, reduced readmissions

MICHAEL HINKELMAN / DAILY NEWS STAFF Eric Heil co-founded RightCare Solutions Inc., which has partnerships with Jefferson and Penn Medicine.
MICHAEL HINKELMAN / DAILY NEWS STAFF Eric Heil co-founded RightCare Solutions Inc., which has partnerships with Jefferson and Penn Medicine.
Posted: June 20, 2013

ERIC HEIL, 30, of Plumsteadville, is co-founder, president and chief executive of RightCare Solutions Inc., a health-care tech company specializing in reducing re-admission rates. The company's software identifies patients who should be referred to post-hospital-care services to reduce unnecessary hospital re-admissions. With 12 employees, RightCare has doubled in size this year.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for RightCare?

A: The idea came from co-founder Kathy Bowles, a professor at Penn's School of Nursing. Her research identified patients not getting the referrals and care they needed once they were discharged. She reached out to the Penn engineering school, and I was a systems-engineering major in health-care systems at the time. I told her I wanted to be a part [of the study] and help build the platform. We reconnected in 2010 when the commercial need opened up after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law.

Q: Did passage of the ACA lead to the startup of RightCare?

A: Re-admissions is not a new problem but ACA accelerated the change. There was a clinical need for patients and a financial need for hospitals. We have a technology that's evidence-based and peer-reviewed, with a decade of research to leverage. We said, "Let's go," and we started in 2011.

Q: How much startup money?

A: We were fortunate to win the Wharton Business Plan Competition and another competition in spring 2012. We got $200,000 in prizes, enough to set up a demo and pay consultants to build a prototype platform we could show potential clients and investors. In October, we raised $1.75 million from two investment funds.

Q: How's the biz model work?

A: We sell an annual subscription service to hospitals. Pricing varies by the number of beds. The service works with their electronic [health] records system, similar to how Microsoft Excel works with Windows.

Q: Who are your clients?

A: We announced our first partnership with Jefferson in November and Penn Medicine in April.

Q: Do you have enough data yet to show how the service works?

A: We're making an impact. [Bowles] presented a pilot study in 2012 at a [professional organization] meeting that showed our platform reduced readmits by 26 percent in high-risk patients. For 2013, the feds are targeting patients with heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia.

Q: Why should hospitals worry about re-admissions?

A: The cost of a hospitalization is the [most expensive] care. If re-admissions are reduced, hospitals can avoid financial penalties. Also, the cost for many re-admitted patients aren't fully reimbursed.

Q: The ACA imposes financial penalties for hospitals?

A: If you're on the wrong side of the national average for one of the three diseases the government is tracking, they can withhold up to 1 percent of what Medicare pays.

On Twitter: @MHinkelman

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