A Conversation with RazorMetrics Co-Founder, Cardiologist, and Entrepreneur Siva Mohan, MD, FACC, FSCAI.
Prior to Venture Atlanta, Siva sat down to do a quick interview talking about his experience with going physician first when it comes to Razormetrics’ approach; below is our transcript of the interview.
Interviewer: First off, how does a cardiologist have time to be an entrepreneur? Your schedule must be crazy.
Siva: It’s a balancing act. I love being a doctor and cardiology is intense and deeply rewarding. But I look forward to the parts of my day when I get to be creative and think about big picture problems. Practicing medicine has allowed me to experience firsthand issues that patients and doctors face and as an entrepreneur, I get to work on these systemic problems.
Interviewer: What systemic problem is RazorMetrics solving?
Siva: One problem that kept coming up in my practice was centered around prescription costs.
Here is a typical example of what I mean. After an office visit, my patient heads to the pharmacy to pick up the prescription but when they hear the cost, they call our office. This is not a good call to receive because the patient is upset and frustrated or worried and they say, “Hey, I can’t afford this medicine. Why would you prescribe something so expensive? Is there anything else I can take that does the same thing but is more affordable?” This happens so frequently it’s hard to estimate.
We have to tell the patient that we have very limited visibility to cost information and have no idea if there is a less expensive equivalent. We advise them to call and ask the insurance company and then call us back and let us know if there is another option. Some patients give up at this point and either pay the high cost or decide to not take treatment. Some do make the call to the insurance company and get an alternative and then we prescribe the less expensive medicine. The whole process makes me uncomfortable and is incredibly frustrating for patients because it’s a cumbersome, consumer-unfriendly model that causes patients to get angry at the system.
Worse though, is the potential negative health outcomes. Some patients end up not taking the medicine at all or stop after a month because they can’t afford it. This is not why I practice medicine. I want my patients to have good outcomes but that is only possible if they are able to afford treatment. I want more visibility into the cost of medication so I can prescribe the right thing for my patients. This ambition is the driving force behind RazorMetrics’ mission.
Interviewer: RazorMetrics focuses on physicians, why not go to patients directly?
Siva: Yeah, so it’s a good question. I’d say that number one, in the whole equation between physician-patient – pharmacist, the patient is the last person who should have to do the extra work.
For me as a cardiologist, for example, most of my patients are over 65 and they are focused on getting healthy. When you don’t feel well, it is not the best time to advocate for yourself. Nor is it helpful to have to join some kind of portal and figure out what the cheaper options are, research medications, compare prices, and rule-out drug interactions.
RazorMetrics is designed to automate the research for the patient and the physician, then communicate the best options directly to the physician. The patient doesn’t have to lift a finger. It’s convenient and easy. I like the fact that our model makes it so the patient doesn’t have to worry if they are getting the right medicine.
Another thing that concerns physicians is when a third party is injected between them and their patients. Physicians automatically question who the third party is and hence, the suggested switch is under suspicion. It can feel like a scam sometimes when a company is trying to do an end-run around you. It adds unnecessary friction between the patient and physician. It’s much better to offer the physician an opportunity to vet a switch that will save their patient money. It’s just a much smoother process.
Interviewer: Why do you think Physicians would participate with RazorMetrics?
Siva: I’m not unique as a physician. Anytime an opportunity comes in front of me to save my patients money, especially now in an age of high deductible plans, and it does not detract from care, I’m going to do that 100% of the time.
Interviewer: Is saving your patients money helpful to you as a physician?
Siva: Without a doubt. Patients are our partners so it’s part of our responsibility to do the best by them that we can. Furthermore, when the patient is stretched financially, we’re always the ones to hear about it. If we get out in front of that, like participating with a tool like RazorMetrics, that allows us to better align with the patient’s own formulary. We have to take advantage of that.
We designed the platform to contact Physicians because they have the control but not the right information. There are too many factors that affect drug prices for physicians to navigate while maintaining a successful practice. With assistance, physicians can feel better about prescribing the lowest cost drugs and making them a partner in lowering health costs for everyone.