It’s not that Casey Davis is a stranger to the health care system. In fact, the Westminster resident is a physician assistant with Dr. Wilbur Kuo and Associates in Eldersburg.
But despite seeing patients every day, it took his family’s experience as patients to fully open his eyes to what he now diagnosed as a major problem in health care — as well as a potential cure.
“There’s a couple of different things that transpired that lead us to this and one of them is my wife has cancer. Last May she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer,” Davis said. "It caught us totally off guard.”
Shuttling from one waiting room to another, from the surgeon to the GYN oncologist to the regular oncologist, he quickly realized that his wife’s medical records at each office simply weren’t talking to one another.
“When you are thrust into it from a patient standpoint, it really was eye opening, ‘Wow, patients really do struggle in this,’ ” Davis said. “They are really dependent on us as providers to know everything about them, but we do a poor job as providers at actually communicating.”
That was the inspiration for KnowMe, a patient-focused medical record device and service that would follow the patient, according to Davis, centering them on their own care and helping providers to better provide that care.
KnowMe is now one of five finalists in the Carroll County Biz Challenge, sponsored by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce. The challenge, in its eighth year, has become a tradition, offering local entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their new business ideas, make connections, get publicity, and compete for a $5,000 cash prize and thousands of dollars’ worth of additional prizes and services.
KnowMe is different than a traditional medical ID bracelet, Davis said, because it can be updated. Rather than engraving blood type or info about blood thinners in metal, KnowMe is a green bracelet similar to a fitness band, but which contains a simple radio-frequency identification chip. A provider can simply tap a smartphone to the band and it will open a website containing any medical information the user wishes to make public. KnowMe provides a service to help set it up and update as needed.
“Our goal is, how can we make this simple for patients?” Davis said. “A lot of people we see struggle with technology, they are older, or just don’t want to be bothered with it. They want a simple way of always having their medical records.”
That’s something a lot of providers say they would like, too, according to Davis. When he surveyed more than 100 of his colleagues on what information would be most useful for them to have about their patients, virtually every one said, “an accurate medication list.”
“As patients, they expect the doctor to know it,” he said. "The doctors expect the patients to bring it."
It becomes an even bigger problem among older patients who might be on many different medications issued by different providers, Davis said.
“The patients I see, the elderly people who come in and they talk about, ‘Oh man, Casey, I take this little, yellow, oblong pill and I think I take it for my reflux. I think my gastroenterologist gave it to me,’ ” he said. “And then it’s like, ‘Oh, wait a minute, maybe that’s my cardiologist that gave that to me?’ ”
KnowMe is intended to help those patients by making sure all of their providers and their pharmacist are on the same page with regards to medications, tests and conditions, Davis said, but keeping all that information on the common denominator — the patient themselves — rather than relying on the records stored with each provider.
“It doesn’t make any sense, right? We don’t do that with the bank, right? We have a bank card and can get our money whenever we want and we can get it from any institution,” he said. “If we want to have a patient-centered approach, why not have the patient at the center of the approach?”
The need for that approach, Davis said, becomes even clearer when you consider emergency situations rather than patients attending appointments, when first-responders might need vital information on someone they have never met before, and someone who might not be capable of providing it. Here again, Davis has had some recent experience that provided inspiration.
“My cousin who has down syndrome was hit by a [Carroll Transit System] bus — she’s fine — and transported to the emergency room,” Davis said. “She knows her name and her mom’s name. She doesn’t know anything about her medical history. So we have to equip her with something she could use and be known in any situation.”
And that’s a concept that inspired by the company name, according to Davis — plus the tagline.