Interview with Nick Dougherty, VerbalCare’s co­founder and General Manager

VerbalCare - Nick Dougherty

Nick Dougherty, Co­Founder and General Manager of VerbalCare, is our latest interviewee. He is formally trained as a computer engineer and graphic artist, and also serves on the Board of Overseers at Franciscan Hospital for Children. Moreover, Nike is a guest lecturer at Boston University, and is a mentor at MassChallenge. Here’s what he had to say…

How would you pitch your company? What’s your elevator pitch?

VerbalCare will not stop innovating until all patients have a voice. We founded the company to return voices to the voiceless. While we worked with patients in hospitals, we discovered communication to be more than the verbal expression of words. Communication is the process that unifies us, comforts us, and heals us.

The current means of communication in healthcare is broken ­­ failing patients, caregivers, and care providers alike. VerbalCare takes patient­centered care to heart. Our platform is built both philosophically and architecturally with the patient at the center. We aim to unify communication and each step we take is towards that objective. Our first step is what you see in the App Store.

What sets you apart from competitors?

We are the combination of some unique healthcare pillars. We are the child of assistive technology, care coordination, patient education, patient engagement, and health information. Because we built an easy­to­use interface for stroke patients, it gave us the opportunity to have a system that is easy to use for a great deal more patients than a traditional health IT solution.

What’s your business model?

Our model today is direct­to­patient. $9.99/mo after a 30 day trial to take ownership of your health care communications. We have some plans coming up that are going to revolutionize the way we deliver technology to patients. Stay tuned. The next few years are going to be exciting.

Can you share some numbers? How many users do you have?

Our beta program has over 300 users. We are excited to graduate to Version 1 soon.

Where do you see the company going from here?

After our recent acquisition by MSD, we shifted the provider focus of our business from hospitals to home care. People want to be in their homes and we think we can deliver a solution that will not only help patients to be more independent, but also support caregivers and reduce readmissions in the process. I can’t give too many more details as this is a closed beta.

Where do you see the mHealth industry going?

I want us to trend in a patient­centered direction. We need to treat patients like people and give them what they have grown to expect from technology. We must first serve the user and provide enterprise value second.

How long are we from seeing modern mHealth technologies going mainstream?

I think we already see products like Fitbit going mainstream, but this is still the Wild West. There is a great deal of unknowns we’re solving on the fly. We will be forced to use mHealth more proactively once the Boomer generation ages. I expect in the next 10­15 years mHealth will evolve from nice­to­have to must­have. We are shaping the fabric of healthcare technology and it is our duty to make it ready for primetime within these crucial upcoming years.