Dr. Eric Carter, a Tampa area hospitalist and family doctor, has seen one of the biggest health care business challenges up close from both sides: the waiting room. As a patient, he recalls once waiting more than two hours to see a doctor. And as a doctor, he says, “I know what it’s like to see patients and fall behind.”
The waiting room conundrum, he says, has long been a frequent topic of conversation among colleagues and friends. He went searching for an app or service to monitor wait times, and was surprised that while hospitals had some for emergency rooms, there was nothing for general practitioners. Basic appointment management tools were both rudimentary and expensive. Chatting with friends a few years ago, Carter says, “someone said ‘someone should make an app that really works.’”
Carter, it turns out, is that someone. Along with fellow Tampa area physician Dr. Kevin Makati, their company, Fast Pathway, created DocClocker. It’s medical wait time reporting — under a Software as a Service subscription model — that provides patients real-time wait time data. While the app and technology debuted before COVID-19 transformed how doctors deliver even the most basic health care services, the founders hope to seize some new opportunities. The biggest challenge now, Carter tells Coffee talk, “is how to get the word out and prove to people how bad-ass this product is. No one has a product like this.”
With DocClocker and now DocClocker Remote Check-In, patients can remotely check-in to their doctor appointments from their car. That’s an obvious recognition, says Cater, that the “waiting room during the COVID-19 pandemic is a potentially risky place to be.”
Carter and his partners invested about $300,000 in startup costs, mostly to pay software developers, in Romania and later Austin, Texas. They have since raised about $1 million, for more product development and marketing.
Some 40 doctors in the Tampa area are using DocClocker, says Carter. A secondary, but related challenge to getting the word out to doctors, he adds, is providing proof of concept to a notoriously suspect customer base. “Doctors are very hesitant to use a product that hasn’t been vetted,” he says.
The DocClocker app is free to patients, and, if supported by the doctor’s office, a patient can manage appointments through the app, receive appointment reminders, write reviews and even report long waits. While Carter has high hopes for DocClocker, he also isn’t ready to give up his day job — yet. “For now,” he says, “I also love practicing medicine.”