RightDevice: La Jolla duo launches website to help patients navigate surgery
Two La Jolla businessmen have started a website designed to help patients navigate their journey through orthopedic surgery, and with user numbers doubling every month, they’re eyeing an expansion to include more surgery types.
Patrick Frank and George Kramb, La Jolla residents who grew up in the area, started RightDevice.com, which earned its first round of seed funding last month to help “patients find the most appropriate medical device and understand what surgery is, what exactly goes into an operation [and] what are the best techniques being used,” Kramb said.
RightDevice includes features such as questionnaires that result in recommended surgery devices, using an algorithm that integrates “machine learning and artificial intelligence” with professional opinions, Frank said.
Though originally tech-focused, RightDevice now includes PatientPartner, a service that connects people with recovered patients to provide support during the surgical journey, Frank said.
“We built a peer-to-peer patient advocacy program where everyone has the opportunity to learn from real and relatable experiences, bringing connectivity to the health care industry,” he said.
Frank said PatientPartner “gives those patients someone to talk to, to connect with along their surgical journey.”
The support platform helps patients deal with fear, he said, adding that only one in three people eligible for surgery has the operation because “they’re scared; they don’t have all the information.”
PatientPartner functions like a support group, Kramb said, “to help people understand what surgery is like, what you need to expect and honestly sharing what is life after a new knee or a new hip.”
Frank said “the time that surgeons are able to spend with their patients is going down every day,” so RightDevice aims to provide hospitals a way to get their patients’ questions answered.
“Patients love helping out somebody who was in their shoes. … We take that altruism and make it available to everybody,” he said.
RightDevice is available nationwide, though the service is “geographically focused,” Frank said. It matches patients within the same ZIP code, and in many cases from the same doctor, making it a “special connection.”
Kramb said RightDevice currently is available for orthopedic surgery patients, such as those needing a knee or hip replacement or a rotator cuff operation.
But the company is about to launch platforms for bariatric (weight-loss) surgery patients, with plans for a spinal surgery platform. “Our goal is to continue to expand,” Kramb said.
The website is free for patients to use, paid for by hospitals, private-practice surgeons and medical device companies.
Frank and Kramb, friends since childhood, “always wanted to start a business together,” Frank said. RightDevice was a “perfect” integration of Kramb’s background in the medical industry and Frank’s experience in business, Frank said.
The idea for RightDevice came from Kramb, a former medical device sales rep who “sold everything under the sun, as far as devices go. I sold orthopedics, sports medicine, plastic surgery, general surgery, trauma surgery … I worked at all the hospitals in the area.”
He said he answered questions from friends and family members who knew he understood “everything about these operations.” In advising those close to him, he thought of building a company to share knowledge beyond “the 10 people I knew … for thousands of patients who are getting surgery every single day,” Kramb said.
Frank, whose background is in “legacy industries” such as law, real estate, retail and oil and gas, said he and Kramb talked to hospitals, surgeons and device companies to “figure out how we can all come together and create a transparent, open platform [with] value for everyone.”
“What we found was surgeons get 40 percent of their new business from patient referrals,” Kramb said. “There’s a huge missing link in the surgical process, and that is connectivity between patients. The most underutilized asset that hospitals, private-practice surgeons as well as medical device companies have is their prior patients.”
“Patients are at the center of everything we are doing,” Frank said. “Consumers are becoming more educated … about health care. There’s more information and they want answers. We’re really excited about the opportunity that is presented by this.” ◆
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