Datica Blog

Mapping Digital Health: An Interview with Ethan Bechtel, Co-Founder and CEO of OhMD

Laleh Hassibi

Vice President of Marketing

March 10, 2018   Mapping Digital Health

As we continue our Mapping Digital Health interview series, we chatted with Ethan Bechtel, Co-Founder and CEO of OhMD about the hurdles and maturity of the digital health industry.

It seems like the biggest hurdle we need to overcome is interoperability of patient health data. Health data is very siloed which makes innovation more challenging than it has to be.”

What does OhMD do?


My company is OhMD. My brother Nate and I co-founded it a few years back to try to address communication problems in healthcare that hadn’t been solved. It’s a secure texting solution that addresses two major pain points. We started with patient communication. How do we replace the voicemails and phone tag and general lack of access that patients have to their doctors and care teams? The other pain point is around physician to physician or provider to provider communications. We set out to build a consumer-grade, HIPAA compliant texting app that improves efficiency for providers. We really took a very consumer tech approach to solving this problem and really focus on user experience and eliminating friction. We’re building a big user base of providers and staff that need OhMD to efficiently get through the day. As far as patients go, we believe access and communication is a critical component of healthcare. With a simple mechanism to communicate with patients between visits, we are measurably improving outcomes.

Where is digital health at on its own industry maturity curve?

I have my own unique perspective on where we’re at based on where I’ve been in my career. I’ve spent the last 13 years of my life doing electronic health record implementation consulting, interface writing, integrations, and building custom solutions for some of the biggest health systems in the country. Everyone involved in implementing EHRs was doing it with the understanding that we would of being able to use this data to really improve outcomes, and ultimately make doctors more efficient at the same time. We are just on the cusp of starting to actually do that, so I would say that to me, we’re really just beginning of the second phase of health IT in that we can actually use the data that help us improve patient outcomes. Up until now, it’s really just been about implementing software, digitizing the data, and the really exciting stuff is where we go from here. How do we automate processes? How do we improve outcomes? And how do we do all that while making providers more efficient? That’s the good stuff.

What are the biggest hurdles, do you think, to real transformation?

It seems like the biggest hurdle we need to overcome is interoperability of patient health data. Health data is very siloed which makes innovation more challenging than it has to be. The good news is that we’re starting to see the big consumer tech companies focus on the interoperability problem. Apple is already showing how they can put the patient in charge of their own data by delivering it to their iPhone. We’re just starting to address the real crux of the interoperability problem, trying to put together solutions that allow data to move more seamlessly. I really think that’s the biggest barrier to making really impactful change in health care is figuring out how to move data efficiently.

What are the innovations you’re most excited about, other than what your company does?

I think there’s a huge opportunity to use technology to help doctors address the things that they spend a lot of time doing that aren’t seeing patients. Something like two-thirds of a doctor’s time are spent doing administrative tasks or documenting patient visits. Google is even starting to use machine learning to try to predict when you’re going to get sick. Leveraging artificial intelligent, automation, and machine learning to address administrative work and simple clinical cases so that doctors can focus on complicated cases and really spend more time with patients is the stuff that really excites me.

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