Nalari Health LLC, of Providence, is trying to bring online health care to life. At the heart of online health care is the idea that the doctor can see you now, anytime, anywhere. The foundation of Nalari’s ability to deliver the best online care assistance is based upon using technology to bring patients and providers together for live encounters. For example, a nurse could examine a patient at their home while receiving instructions from their doctor on the computer, eliminating travel time, multiple visits and even needless ambulance calls.
“We are trying to change the location and the timeliness of care,” said Mark P. Treat, president of the company.
The company is one of many promising Rhode Island medical-technology businesses, according to Thorne Sparkman, managing director of the Slater Technology Fund, a state-backed, venture-capital fund that provides seed funding to qualified entrepreneurs.
“There are about 15 [medical] companies in the industry that we are assisting and there has to be at least another 15 just working on electronic medical records,” said Sparkman.
Hoping to spread the word on the sector’s potential, Sparkman organized a July 12 event for networking in Providence attended by a host of companies, including Nalari.
The company has not received any funding from Slater but did get a $10,000 Governor’s Workforce Board training grant.
Treat and a staff of eight have been working on the company’s project for the last 18 months. Another dozen employees serve as part-time support. “We hope to be significantly further along in the process by the end of the year,” he said.
Treat’s vision includes a patient having a teleconference with a hospital’s emergency room for triage, prescriptions and other care, such as “tele-referrals” with other doctors.
The system is also suited for chronic illnesses such as those that might require visiting nurses or periodic care. In essence, it’s a house call by computer, and all the information can be entered into the patient’s medical records.
Treat believes the medical field is on the verge of a technological windfall. Rhode Island, he says, is uniquely positioned to excel.
He credits the relative ease in which Rhode Island gets reimbursed by the federal government for Medicare and Medicaid. “When you are doing something new and innovative and want to measure if it improves health and can reduce cost and improve access to care, you can do it in Rhode Island without a painful approval process. That makes everything easier to evaluate,” he said.