Every day in the United States, thousands of people will dial 911 to ask for help. Some of those calls are serious and require immediate emergency attention, but the reality is that most 911 calls are of a very simple nature: worry about a prescription, fear over a newly developed symptom, or a general medical question.
When the 911 caller receives that request for medical assistance, he sets a series of responses in motion. Ambulances and paramedics are dispatched, skyrocketing costs for patients and insurance companies. What if, instead of sending hyper-expensive emergency services in a non-emergency situation, the callers had a colleague to guide patients to the resources they really needed?
MD Ally is a startup that resumes non-emergency calls for 911 calls and telecommunications medical services. The company closed a $ 3.5 million funding led by Hemant Taneja at General Catalyst with Tuo Luis of Sea Cattle Ventures. The company raised $ 1 million in financing last March.
Shanel Fields, the company’s CEO and founder, said the incentive for the company came from a very young age. “It goes back to my own childhood – my father was a volunteer EMT when I was growing up on Long Island,” she said, and an interest in healthcare brought her to Athenahealth.
She kept thinking about the 911 call though, and the disparities that exist between different communities when it comes to response times. “Whether you have $ 5 dollars in your pocket or 5 million dollars – you call the same number,” she said. But I read “some research that in low-income and rude communities, they had a higher ‘arrival rate of the dead” due to the high waiting period. “The reason was simple: In communities with low access to healthcare, emergency services are often the only option, leading to high volumes of 911 calls that would be considered low priority.
She gave her idea for an MD associate – to improve the efficiency of dispatch so that emergencies get first care, and non-emergency calls can also be helped to improve clinical outcomes. He officially began building the company in the fall of 2019, and was joined by Kojo Degraaff-Hanson, who is the company’s chief product officer. The two have known each other from Cornell for a decade, and they kept in touch to further their careers.
The company integrates into a computer-aided dispatch system used by 911 operations centers (formally known as Public Safety Answering Points or PSAP). Today, when 911 calls arrive, call takers determine the sharpness of the medical threat, which includes using the Advanced Medical Priority Dispatch System, a uniform process to seriously code each call. MD Alley has installed a variety of codes that can safely redirect callers to telehealth treatment options.
The best of all, MD Alley’s platform is free for cash-provided at 911 centers. Instead the company intends to generate revenue on behalf of the provider to reduce the cost of emergency medical services from insurance companies, along with telehealth referrals. The company is now integrating with centers in New York and Florida and is also expected to have centers in Louisiana, California and Arizona by the end of the year.
Long-term, the company hopes to help in situations where 911 callgirls, who are experiencing mental illness, can be sent a police response instead of psychological services. “We are really passionate and excited to provide a range of resources to de-escalate scenarios,” Fields said.