MEET Darryl Kuhn, CTO of ARISTA MD

Arista MD and it’s Chief Technology Officer Darryl Kuhn are members of 7CTOs.

To keep this icebreaker even shorter than my elevator speech: Arista MD solves the problem of unnecessary medical specialist referrals.

If you look at the history of healthcare and technology, only in the last decade or so have hospitals begun to adopt electronic health care organizational systems. Now, after some bumpy years, they’re moving past the initial stage of acceptance to, “Hey now that we’ve got it….how do we leverage it? How can we use this to make things work better?”

One of the ways has been to streamline specialist referrals and filter out the ones that are unneeded. In the United States, roughly half of all referrals to a specialist are unnecessary, costing the economy roughly $10 billion, not to mention the waste of time involved for all parties. That’s a drag all around.

In response to this squandering of time and money, Arista MD offers a web-based platform that provides work-up checklists (simple question and answer prompts) and access to a panel of specialists to streamline the referral process and filter out clinically unnecessary referrals.

We didn’t get here alone. The Arista MD’s work-up checklists are based upon work done at the University of California San Francisco over a six year period. The work-up, as it’s called, is the set of procedures done to arrive at a diagnosis, including history taking, laboratory tests, x-rays, and so on. These help a physician determine what’s going on with a concerned patient.

Arista MD licensed the UCSF checklists and has commercialized them in the form of their web-based software platform. Doctors review the checklist to ask relevant questions that help make sure a specialist’s expertise is needed and put to optimal use.

So here’s how it works: A patient is at the doctor’s office. The doctor’s about to make a referral to a dermatologist about concerning rash. Before doing so, however s/he refers to the Arista MD work-up checklist about the condition, which may offer insight before a specialist referral.

Sometimes the work-up checklist isn’t enough. Arista MD also offers physicians the ability to reach out and ask a specialist a question before making a referral — the eConsult.

The eConsult is the differentiator that makes Arista MD more than a pure SaaS or tech company — it positions us as as a technology-enabled services company. The eConsult connects the patient’s doctor with a specialist from Arista MD’s panel of physicians. We add the human element to the technological tool.

Ultimately, after going over the checklist and potentially following up with an eConsult-provided specialist for any outstanding queries not on the list, all the material is collected by Arista MD and delivered to the specialist — again, saving time and potential repetition of questions and tests.

Our users are physicians, primarily primary care doctors, while our clients are healthcare systems, insurance companies -- basically anyone paying for patient healthcare.

The platform make sense in a lot of healthcare verticals including healthcare systems, large employers such as Toyota and Facebook who offer primary care in their own work-site clinics, and correctional healthcare — jails, prisons — where cost and logistics can limit specialist access.

Arista MD has been around for 18 months, and we’ve grown quickly from initial product launch in early 2015 to several customers with deployments across the country. That’s due in no small part to the exceptional team led by our founder and CEO, Rebecca Cofinas. We’re also privileged to be backed by fantastic San Diego VCs Avalon Ventures and Correlation Ventures.

It’s been a mad dash and a lot of hard work (with more hard work in front of me); but I am energized. I think this is a function of working with a great team solving a worthy problem. My day is spent about a quarter of the time working with software, UX architecture, writing code (that’s the best part - as I’m sure the majority of my CTO brethren will agree). The remainder of my time is spent between executive responsibilities like company planning and goals, team management, business development. Being a CTO means different things at different stages of the company. Right now I am in a sweet spot where I get to stay close to the tech and participate in more executive function such as long-term strategy.

Arista MD continues to grow, and we’re hiring in tech and other departments. We’ve closed several new accounts recently and are shifting focus from pure product development to additional sales heft because we think our offering is the best available in the category and ready for prime time.