Two Cleveland startups — Hyr Medical and Axuall — are working together to streamline the credentialing process for healthcare practitioners.
Hyr connects healthcare providers with places to practice, while Axuall has developed technology that enables healthcare providers to acquire authenticated digital versions of their credentials and qualifications in real time. After initially partnering at the start of 2020 to pilot their concept of portable digital credentials, the two now have integrated their technology and are addressing what many have long viewed as a cumbersome part of the approval process to get physicians working.
Hyr is building a two-sided network of qualified physicians and healthcare systems for freelance ("locum tenens"), telehealth and permanent jobs. A crucial element in that connection is ensuring the clinicians have the necessary certifications, licenses, skills and experience through a credentialing process.
"Think of doing taxes but 10 times worse, and you have to do it over and over and over again — more than just every year, because you often have privileges at multiple places," Axuall CEO Charlie Lougheed said. "So it was this stumbling block for the entire industry."
Traditionally, to speed up the credentialing process would mean sacrificing quality, said Hyr CEO Manoj Jhaveri. But Axuall's blockchain technology means avoiding that trade-off and getting thorough, quality credentials and background checks quickly. The partnership leverages Hyr's networks of providers and practitioners and Axuall's national network of primary-source credential issuers to enable physicians to present fully compliant credential sets to places where they apply.
"All of our providers that we present to employers are going to be primary source verified, that they're going to have a background check and that they're going to have talked with our clinical staff, and been screened before being presented," Jhaveri said. "So we're able to do that very quickly, but we're also able to have a high standard of quality bar. So, high quality bar but very short cycle time; whereas most places have to trade off between one or the other."
Although Axuall is working with other large health systems (including University Hospitals and MetroHealth), its partnership with Hyr allowed it to test its system and quickly implement changes, Lougheed said.
"Because we're two Cleveland companies, we were able to innovate and test very rapidly together, and at probably a pace and cadence that is really hard to do with a much larger health care organization," Lougheed said. "Because we were so close and two small companies, we could iterate extremely quickly on newer things, try things out, see what worked, and then we could rapidly expand on them. So it was a really nice fast flywheel for innovation between the two companies."
Axuall announced in July it closed a $10.4 million Series A funding round, driven largely by support from healthcare-focused funders.
"This was the healthcare community basically saying we have an absolute need for this," he said. "We plan to spend money in this area because it's important for us as an investment. ... We want to have a stake in the game."
Hyr, meanwhile, is in the midst of its own seed-plus round and plans to do a Series A funding round a couple of years from now.
Last year, as staffing needs grew and shifted during the pandemic, Hyr responded by diversifying the pool of providers on its network, growing the number of providers on the platform, as well as the hospitals and medical groups. Those moves helped the company's revenue grow by 300% in 2020. (It doesn't disclose specific figures.)
To date, the network has grown to 1,200 providers, about a quarter of which have completed profiles. Revenue has remained level as the market begins to rebound, Jhaveri said, adding that he hopes the Delta coronavirus variant doesn't cause things to slip backward. As patient volumes are returning the staffing needs are growing, which is reflected in the nearly 70 openings for jobs Hyr currently has on its platform, he said.
Hyr currently has a dozen full-time-equivalent employees with two open positions, which will be key for further expansion, Jhaveri said, noting that the technology integration with Axuall means Hyr can scale without requiring a ton of new hires.
Hyr is also in the early stages of building out an option to license its technology as a software of service monthly fee arrangement, Jhaveri said, "enabling hospital systems as well as physicians to essentially harness the power of what we've built in a different way."
"That's one of the key things we're looking at in terms of as a strategy," he said.
He said Hyr is fortunate to be able to collaborate with Axuall and Lougheed, whose work so closely complements his own.
"It meant a lot to us to have that kind of close relationship with his team and Charlie," Jhaveri said. "We can just pick up the phone and get calls going quickly. ... I'm sure Hyr won't be the only company they integrate with like this, but it's cool to be the first with them."
This story first appeared in our sister publication, Crain's Cleveland Business.