“…improve healthcare by implementing a successful solution that focuses on the needs of patients and doctors first and foremost, while making office visits virtual within ten years. As a connected society, we should be using HIPAA-compliant, secure video visits to promote continuity of care and run a more efficient, profitable practice with the goals of doctors and their patients as the top priority. We can make the lives of both patients and doctors easier and more rewarding by using telehealth for level 1–3 straightforward, low-complexity visits like maintenance check-ins and prescription refills, doctors can reserve in-person time for level 4 and level 5 visits. Telehealth also makes it easier to access healthcare without the need to miss work or school. There are technology-driven solutions that can greatly benefit both physicians and patients. Patients have settled for a sub-par system and they shouldn’t have to. The more that these innovations are adopted and implemented, the more we can provide better ongoing care to society.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Samant Virk. Dr. Virk is Founder & CEO of MediSprout, a company focused on connecting doctors with their patients through innovative technology solutions. Sam’s vision is to address the shortcomings of healthcare by building technology around one of the cornerstones of medical practice, the provider-patient relationship.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path as a doctor or healer?
Having practiced clinical medicine for almost 15 years, with a specialization in Neurology and Interventional Spine, I came to the realization that the healthcare system was flawed, with more physician time being spent filling out insurance paperwork, playing phone tag and chasing follow-ups — and less time treating people, helping families and serving communities. The system handcuffs doctors and leaves them feeling worn down, frustrated and unable to provide more meaningful care that I know we are capable of.
The healthcare industry’s two most important parties, the doctors and the patients, are exceedingly becoming dissatisfied and frustrated — creating a scenario that begs for change. In any other industry where the end user is dissatisfied it becomes an opportunity for change. Why should it be any different for healthcare? This is our moment to create the change we want as providers and patients.
As doctors, we are setting the standard of care and I refused to sit back and watch the government and insurance companies dictate how I practice medicine. It also meant there were opportunities for change, and this is one of the many reasons I created MediSprout and our first innovation, a secure telehealth solution called V2MD.
How have your personal challenges informed your career path?
I spent years training and going to school to help people feel better, but I soon realized that I spent more time staring at a screen and doing administrative work than I was interacting with my patients. I’m passionate about the belief that patients need more of our time connecting and finding resolutions, and over time, I found myself less willing to accept working in a world where only 27% (and this is becoming less every year, according to the Annals of Internal Medicine) of my time was devoted to caring for patients. Rather than watch an already broken system get worse, with less and less time available for enhancing doctor-patient relationships, I decided to do something about it.
And in a growing world of what I often refer to as “outsourced medicine,” patients are increasingly making choices that don’t include their regular physicians — they’re going to Urgent Care facilities or seeking doctors online they’ve never met before. This frustrated me because I already know my patients and their medical history. My goal is to be their first resource for their ongoing care, and not having it pushed out to a physician they’ve never met before.
Can you share five pieces of advice to other doctors/clinicians/healers to help their patients to thrive?
1. Take Back The Doctor-Patient Relationship
a. Doctors understand that caring relationships have as much to do with making patients feel better and improve their health, as does objective medicine. We need to maximize the time we have with our patients by building stronger relationships through regular, preventative care. By keeping patients well informed and connected, we enable them to better follow instructions and maintain their health. Without the human element of healthcare, patients are missing out on so much of the value that a dedicated healthcare system has the potential of offering.
2. The Right Technology Can Help
a. Technologies are often aimed at providing convenience, yet they have a way of road-blocking care. The rise in on-demand medical services make it clear that patients are seeking more convenient care options to accommodate their increasingly demanding lives. Consider the telemedicine model: patients needing routine or non-emergency care are able to request to meet with their doctor via video conference, allowing the patient access to what they need, while also providing more time for the doctor to spend with critical patients in the office. The right technology can give us back control of our profession, reduce those frustrations and stress levels, and enable us to be the kind of compassionate and devoted providers we’ve worked so hard to become.
3. Your Practice Is A Business
a. Inefficiencies in time management and billing are costing doctors and medical practices hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, more patients and more billing might not equal better care. Seek out technology solutions that will help streamline your practice to capture more revenue by filling schedule openings and getting paid for after-hours communications, all while providing better care.
4. Take Care of Yourself
a. We enter the medical field because we want to help others, but often get so entangled in the stresses of our practice that we forget the most important patient- ourselves. The American Medical Association reports that “the current state of the healthcare system is clearly driving increases in physician burnout at a higher rate.” Everyone needs time to recharge their batteries, whether through yoga, playing catch with your kids, or simply shutting off and meditating. My favorite way to unwind is to lace up my running shoes and hit the road. If we aren’t feeling healthy and strong, it’s difficult for us to provide the best possible care for our patients.
5. Be Part of the Change
a. As the front line of healthcare, we’re in a unique position to demand changes within the system. Our patients need us more than ever and as their doctors, we need to embrace new solutions, like telemedicine, that empower us to provide the care required, while also building rewarding, profitable practices. We’re in a position to harness these solutions and drive lasting change, and I believe it’s our responsibility to move the needle and make a difference!
Social media and reality TV create a venue for people to share their personal stories. Do you think more transparency about your personal story can help or harm your field of work? Can you explain?
My personal story is the driver for creating MediSprout and why I’m advocating for change in the healthcare space, so it’s very transparent. I spent years practicing medicine only to feel like I was not in control of my practice or connecting with my patients. I became frustrated because technology, which plays an important role in our private lives today, was becoming a major contributor to our loss of control when it entered the exam room — the tech I was using in my practice was not aligned to the interests of me or my patients. These are opportunities for growth and technology should drive efficiencies, better care and stronger connections.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant to your life?
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.’ — Steve Jobs
When I was in medical school the amount of work and time you have to put in the first two years can cause lots of self-doubt. You are 24/7 surrounded by lots of smart people many of whom love to talk about how much they know and are just generally hyper-competitive. While initially, this was very distracting and caused some amount of self-doubt, I quickly learned that the best way to succeed was to double-down on me. It took some courage but I stayed focused on what I knew works best for me, avoided the distractions of others, made it my mission to help others when I could without being condescending and set my own goals and priorities which led to my being among the top of my class. It is a lesson that has been invaluable to me, particularly the way we live today inundated with news, information and social distraction that can prevent you from leading your own fulfilling life because you are focusing too much on others.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Ultimately it would be to improve healthcare by implementing a successful solution that focuses on the needs of patients and doctors first and foremost, while making office visits virtual within ten years. As a connected society, we should be using HIPAA-compliant, secure video visits to promote continuity of care and run a more efficient, profitable practice with the goals of doctors and their patients as the top priority. We can make the lives of both patients and doctors easier and more rewarding by using telehealth for level 1–3 straightforward, low-complexity visits like maintenance check-ins and prescription refills, doctors can reserve in-person time for level 4 and level 5 visits. Telehealth also makes it easier to access healthcare without the need to miss work or school. There are technology-driven solutions that can greatly benefit both physicians and patients. Patients have settled for a sub-par system and they shouldn’t have to. The more that these innovations are adopted and implemented, the more we can provide better ongoing care to society.
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