Maulik Joshi is riding the bronco of quality measurement to healthcare nirvana.
The jaded marketplace for technology companies hasn't diminished his passion. No one will ever hear him complaining of brush burns or saddle sores.
As chief quality officer, executive vice president and co-founder of DoctorQuality, a private and still unprofitable start-up based in Philadelphia, he's in the thick of arguably the most pressing issue for anyone involved in healthcare.
"We know there are a lot of best practices out in healthcare, but unfortunately we haven't used them," Joshi says. "We try to blame people, but it's the system that needs to be improved."
Joshi, 33, and three other co-founders left high-powered hospital jobs two years ago to make a viable business out of quality issues. The firm is the brainchild of David Shulkin, M.D., DoctorQuality's chairman and chief executive officer, who persuaded Joshi to leave the University of Pennsylvania Health System, where Joshi was senior director of quality from 1997 to 1999. Working with Shulkin at Penn, Joshi created the office of corporate quality and became the first senior director of quality for the four-hospital health system.
"I knew I wouldn't want to build (a company) without Maulik on my team," Shulkin says.
It wasn't the first time Shulkin enlisted Joshi for a job. To get him for Penn, he had to steal him away from the HMO Group, New Brunswick, N.J., a not-for-profit consortium of 25 group practice health plans. Over the course of five years, Joshi climbed the ladder to executive vice president, again focusing on performance measurement and quality improvement.
In the two years since the co-founders launched DoctorQuality, they have raised $6.6 million through two rounds of funding, filed three patents and installed two products nationally with dozens of customers, including General Electric, Humana, Detroit Medical Center and Health Partners. Shulkin credits Joshi with obtaining several outside grants to support the company's quality work, including money from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to study how changes in the reimbursement system may accelerate the adoption of quality standards.
The two products include My Quality Coach, an online product marketed to employers for their employee health plans, and a risk prevention and management system, also a Web-based tool for healthcare organizations that aims to streamline the reporting and management of medical incidents and near-misses. The products are just the beginning of an all-out effort to make quality part of the healthcare culture rather than an afterthought.
Joshi clearly thrives on the energy of a small company with large ambitions. With just 37 employees, he has to be a jack-of-all trades. His workday may start off with a morning management or product meeting, then move into the installation of a new product. Later in the day, he might be found poring over the company financials or making an afternoon sales call. There's also taking out the trash, and at night, helping his wife, Emilie, bathe their 11-month-old son and 2-year-old daughter. Then he may respond to e-mail.
In the midst of all this, Joshi earned a doctorate in public health as a Pew Charitable Trusts fellow through the University of Michigan. Beginning in late 1996, he flew to Michigan one weekend a month to spend 30 hours in a classroom. That was the easy part, he says. Two years later he began writing his dissertation, looking for a correlation between hospital accreditation scores and risk-adjusted mortality rates.
Joshi came about this work naturally. The son of two physicians who immigrated to Lawrenceville, N.J., from India when he was 2, he says he never was interested in following directly in his parent's footsteps, although he liked the healthcare environment. So with a math degree under his belt, he was receptive when someone suggested in the early 1990s that he look into a master's degree program in health administration.
Joshi hasn't looked back.
"We're quality nuts," Joshi says. "We're really just passionate about this stuff."