INVEST DH Pitch Perfect winner spotlight: EHR-integrated Navimize wants to cut down a key patient pain point

Among the many pain points in healthcare access and delivery is the notoriously difficult to predict wait times at doctors’ offices. Enter Navimize, a New York City-based startup that provides a virtual waiting room to help streamline scheduling and improve the patient experience.

The venture capital-backed company recently won the Pitch Perfect competition for improving payer/provider operational efficiency at MedCity’s INVEST Digital Health conference.

The Navimize platform integrates with EHRs and pulls scheduling data and real-time tracking information. The platform applies algorithms to the data to predict delays in the schedule. The system then sends text messages to patients in real time to let them know.

The startup was founded in 2016 by Dr. Jennifer Meller and Kavita Mangal.

At the time, both Meller and Mangal were earning their MBAs at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. While learning about Lean principles and other business strategies, Meller, a primary care physician who previously ran her own practice, began thinking about how the physical waiting room was a form of waste.

“I walked outside one day and ordered an Uber, looked at my phone and said, ‘if I can see what is happening with these cars on my phone even if they are not physically in front of me, my patients should be able to peer into my waiting room and see what is happening,’” Meller said in a phone interview.

Meller had seen firsthand the negative effects of long wait times at her New York City practice, Park Avenue Medicine. The physician and her staff would get frustrated as they ran behind schedule and then received reviews that praised Meller but noted the terrible wait times at her office. Once MinuteClinics launched, Meller saw her patients preferred the urgent care option over her office.

Along with Mangal, Meller set out to create a solution that would give patients real-time insight into the waiting rooms at their doctors’ offices.

“The patient’s time is extremely valuable and Navimize [enables] patients to better manage their time and spend less time in a waiting room,” said Mark Fleming, vice president of business development at SCAN Health Plan and a Pitch Perfect contest judge, in an email. “Also as important, a physician’s calendar can be optimized using Navimize’s ability to right-size appointment times. Having a tool that solves both a pain point for patients and physicians is a win-win.”

There were concerns when the Covid-19 pandemic hit that Navimize’s solution would not be needed as people were avoiding going into healthcare facilities. But the opposite turned out to be true as people adjusted to the new normal with a focus on reigning in crowds.

“Suddenly our platform went from something people looked at as a nice-to-have to a must-have,” Navimize’s Meller said. “A virtual waiting room is now a necessity.”

Navimize is certainly not the first company to take aim at wait times and efficiency in healthcare. The company counts as its competitors QLess and Solv, which focus on managing wait times and connecting patients to same-day care, respectively.

But, Navimize aims to address the unique challenge of streamlining scheduling at physician practices where workflows are not linear. 

“In your cardiologist’s office or primary care doctor’s office or your pediatrician’s office, the flow beyond the waiting room is very variable,” she said. “So, the nut that we have cracked is to be able to figure out, despite the variability from one practice to another — whether that’s size, whether that’s specialty, whether that’s just how they do things — we’ve been able to figure out what data points we need to power our algorithms…so that we’re able to predict the delays accurately.”

The solution has been integrated into athenahealth EHRs and is live in practices, in at least six different states, including Tennessee-based CovenantCare Practices. The company is now in the process of signing its first contract with a health system in the Southwest.

“I am excited about the impact of clinical efficiency tools to transform healthcare,” said Dr. Naomi Fried, co-founder and managing partner at Ambit Health Ventures and a Pitch Perfect judge, in an email. “Navimize is a great example of using technology to streamline the delivery of care.”

Since its founding, Navimize has raised $1.3 million on convertible notes. It is now raising a $3 million equity seed round.

Photo: simonkr, Getty Images








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