Transforming Healthcare Information Creation and Utilization to Increase Efficiency, Improve Outcomes [Interview][Transcript]

Dr_Michael_Sherling_Modernizing_MedicineGuest: Dr. Michael Sherling
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Dr. Michael Sherling is the co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of Modernizing Medicine. He’s responsible for developing and designing the dermatology-based software, and supervising the design of Modernizing Medicine’s other EMA specialties. Michael has been a practicing dermatologist since 2006. He is currently practicing in a comprehensive skin care dermatology group in Palm Beach County, Florida.

Segment overview: Modernizing Medicine is transforming how healthcare information is created, consumed and utilized. Their flagship product, Electronic Medical Assistant® (EMA™), is a cloud-based, specialty-specific electronic medical records (EMR) system built by practicing physicians.


Health Professional Radio – Modernizing Medicine

Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard for this Health Supplier Segment. As we traverse the waters of healthcare, the changes that take place, sometimes they work out better for some than others. Trying to make healthcare work for everyone is usually in front of mind with our physicians. To that end a lot of times technology is in the forefront and plays a major role. Our guest in studio today is Dr. Michael Sherling. He is the Chief Medical Officer and Co-Founder of Modernizing Medicine, a company that aims to enhance the physician experience as it relates to giving better care and more efficient care. How are you doing today Doctor?

Dr. Michael Sherling: Hey, how are you? Thanks so much for having me.

N: Thank you for your time. Modernizing Medicine, you are their Chief Medical Officer and co-founder of this company. When did this company come to existence?

S: Great question, actually I was practicing dermatology in Lake Worth Florida which is in Palm Beach County in Southeast Florida. And it happens to be one of my patient who walk-in literally for a routine skin exam who happen to be a serial entrepreneur and we got to chatting and I’m kind of a techy before medical school. I took a computer programing class in college and always wanted to be something entrepreneurial but as I was chatting up my patient I learned that he had founded a company called “Blackboard.” And one of the Co-founders grew that in the education space to about 90% of the US education market and learned that I had somebody literally in front of me had done amazing work providing a solution to a field that really needed that and healthcare in a lot of ways is in the dark ages. Physicians are still typing a lot of their notes into a computer, disconnected from their patients.

N: Absolutely.

S: That information I get in is just so critical, doesn’t really communicate well to other systems so the patient don’t have access to the information they need when they need it. And at the time which was in 2010, there is a huge need to really improve and provide a productivity tool for doctors. And one that would make patient care better, and Daniel Cane is my co-founder, he not only build company but he builds software, so that he can built anything. And I said we need to build something that make physicians faster and improve healthcare and so we came up with the electronic medical system which is really a platform for improving healthcare. And the medical record system that we built cuts down the documentation time from let’s call it 5, 10 minutes to under a minute.

N: Wow, that’s amazing because when I go to the doctor they’re sitting there I see them for 4 minutes, they’re to me sometimes completely disconnected with what I’m seeing because they’re required to put this information in. This information, it’s the same information, but you’re helping physician to not only improve how that information is created and transmitted so that better treatment can be administered. But when it comes to the business side for the physician’s practice, how is your software I mean above the efficiency, I mean cutting down 3 minutes to less than a minute – okay yeah I get that. But when it comes to the bottom line, how much more are the physicians being able to keep what they’re making as opposed to letting it go behind inefficiency?

S: Now that’s a great point. So well the most precious resource ever physician is their time and so it’s their really spending a lot of time documenting their encounter, they can’t spend more time with patients and they can’t see a lot of patients. So that is obviously one way of getting a return of investment from a business perspective. But healthcare is shifting and we’re moving away from fee-for-service. Fee for service is the traditional healthcare model the physicians get paid today and which is the more physician orders, the more test we order, the more procedures we do, the longer we spend patient, the more money we get reimbursed. And that’s changing because healthcare cost are skyrocketing and it’s unsustainable. And so there is something called… healthcare and Alternative Payment Models where doctors get paid by proving that they have higher quality and that they’re spending less healthcare dollars per patient than their peers. And the software solution that we have, we’re launching analytical tool that gives the provider insight, gages if you will on what their quality is and what their costs are so that they can change course during the year to improve and that really has and that has huge impact on the bottom line. Other services that we provide include things like revenue cycle management, where in practice management which were launching this year are which our software tools that we use to collect claims data, as a claims from insurance companies for physicians. And we also have services that allow us to collect a higher percentage of receivables for physicians as well on top of the value based offering that we have.

N: How seamlessly does your software interact with other types of coding software when it comes to getting paid?

S: Yeah. So diagnostic codes have changed, actually we’re moving away from IC9 towards IC10 and instead of 13,000 codes which are the IC9 codes that for decades doctors have been using, we can memorized them there only five digits, they’re basically a zip code. We’re moving to IC10 codes which are 7 digits, the phone numbers and instead of 13,000 codes, there’s a 120,000 codes. And what creates an IC10 code depends on not just the diagnosis itself, but where it’s located on the body. And so adding all of these complexities it gets really complicated fast. Our system, because it captures structured data, because it’s predominantly mobile so it’s on iPad, it’s cloud-based and the physicians themselves, like we have 18 physicians on staff. So our physicians capture all of the structure knowledge, it auto omit things like ICT10 codes. So physicians don’t have to be bothered with any of that stuff and instead of spending minutes after each encounter coding all of these things, CPT codes, ICT codes, modifiers – our software automates all of that and comes up with a bill based on what the clinical documentation itself.

N: That’s amazing. We’re talking about the face of healthcare shifting, we’re talking about the way coding is done going through a change. Medical practices are as unique as the doctors that bill them. How does your software make changes say from a practice to a kidney specialist practice or to pediatrics, how is that?

S: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think no two doctors practice the same. We spend 4 years of medical school 7 years of license getting on specialty training to learn our specialty. I’m a dermatologist I practice medicine on the skin and at your actual practice spend years operating on kidney diseases and the like and from the very early beginning of the company we said “I can’t pretend to be a different specialty and our customers would immediately if its look like a dermatologist build another specialty.” So we hire 18 physicians and each one of them has a different specialty. And so we have several dermatologist on staff, we have urologist, several ophthalmologist and we teach them how to code.

N: Okay.

S: And computer code. And they build this language and this relationships between the diagnoses, the plans and the prescriptions and it then works for them. And so the underlying platform which is something the engineers build think of it as this very advanced ‘nintendo’ and then the ‘game cartridges’ are coded by the doctors. And so whether you’re putting in a dermatology platform or you’re putting in an ophthalmology product, that code is determined by the physicians that not only code the product, but also use it in practice.

N: Talking about the uniqueness of practices, if you’re familiar with programming your playlist say in Pandora, iHeart, Meteor or something like that. If I like funk music and 9 of the songs are funk and 15 of them are country, and with your software does my interest get moved to the front or do I still have to go through and look to find my entries even though I like funk music and I want to do that today? Do I still have to weed out my country music?

S: That’s an awesome question. And it really gets to what makes our software different or similar to software like Pandora in that there is adaptive and yes the system comes day one with the knowledge of learning all of the diagnoses that are given specialty, but if you like certain let’s say you specialize in certain disease within dermatology, you see a lot of patients with acne and psoriasis and you deal with a lot of skin cancer, those diagnoses will rise so that you can see them front and center. You don’t have to search for them or type in their names, they’ll wait there in front of you. And likewise if you treat the disease a certain way over and over again, say you like certain techniques to remove a skin cancer, you use a … blade scalper, you used for suture to sow it up, it will remember that you like new sutures, this scalper, this anesthesia to remove it, this prescription to treat it. And that adaptive learning works much the same way like Pandora in that it shows the doctor only what they need to see, when they need to see it. It remembers what they choose and then the things that they do most commonly like in the top, so they’re not searching, they’re not clicking, they’re not typing, it’s just in front of them.

N: Great, that’s excellent. And as we wrap up talk about some of the feedback that you’re getting from not only physicians but some of the support staff that has been trained how to use your software and then let’s get just a little bit into the support that you offer, okay?

S: Yeah, absolutely. We have tremendous amount of support team, our company is about 500 employees. And so we have I want to say greater than 25% are in support plans services. And so physicians are very busy people, when they call in, they need an answer pretty quickly and so we want to be available for them. And it’s not just support staff, these are people who have really experience dealing with patients, have been involved in being in the front office or the back office of the medical practice. And so they’re talking to their peers, people who have been office managers or at the front desk or medical assistants who then speak their language, understand what the workflow challenges are and then communicate to the customer. And we arrange by medical economics as the number one for customer service.

N: Where can our listeners get more information about Modernizing Medicine, you’ve got a website yeah?

S: Absolutely, is our website. And there you can see just the experience that our physicians have, using the iPad it’s very sleek. We’re also launching a telemedicine application as well for patients so that patients who are treated by our dermatologists can be seen remotely.

N: Okay.

S: Taking pictures of their conditions and forwarding them on using the technology. So we’re very pro-patient and pro-technology.

N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard. It’s been a pleasure talking in studio this afternoon with Dr. Michael Sherling, Chief Medical Officer and co-founder of Modernizing Medicine. Modernizing Medicine is a firm that’s transforming how healthcare information is created, consumed and utilized in order to increase efficiency and improved outcomes overall both for the patient and for the physicians themselves. Now Dr. Sherling as the co-founder, he is responsible for developing and designing the dermatology based software, and supervising the design of Modernizing Medicine’s other EMA specialties. Great having you here with us today Doctor.

S: Thank you so much, Neal. I really appreciate it.

N: Transcript and audio of this program are available at and also at and you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.

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