Under the Microscope: Knowledge to Practice

Why Avestria Invested in this Physician Education Startup

In this series, we explain why we invested in our current portfolio companies. In the process, we hope to highlight the white spaces in women’s health and the life sciences — as well as the people, products, and companies working to fill those gaps. The name “Under the Microscope” refers both to our extensive due diligence process and our investment focus on healthcare and the life sciences.

Medical information doubles every 73 days. That doubling time has only increased in recent years: from 50 years in 1950, to 7 years in 1980, and down to 3.5 years in 2010. To put in context, students who graduated medical school in 2020 will have experienced four doublings of knowledge during seven years of training; what they learned in their first three years is, by the end of 2020, only about 6% of total medical knowledge.

With the increasing amount of new information out there, how do physicians keep up? And how do they keep their knowledge up to date without sacrificing their time with their patients?

Knowledge to Practice (K2P) offers a new approach to continuing medical education and board review.

K2P is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based online healthcare education provider for physicians for board reviews and continuing medical education (CME). To help physicians stay up to date, save time, and improve the quality of the care they provide, K2P breaks down medical knowledge, with input from key opinion leaders, into on-demand microlearning modules.

“Microlearning” refers to the presentation of a body of knowledge in small units, often 5 to 20 minutes, to help students process and remember the material with more ease and less fatigue than traditional learning methods: studying a substantial amount of material all at once and taking a single cumulative assessment. The use of microlearning has been rising over the past few years, with a 2015 study showing that online micro-learners answered assessment questions 20% more accurately and in 28% less time than those who learned through the traditional method.

Through this online micro-learning approach, K2P helps reduce hospital and healthcare costs.

K2P’s Founder & CEO, Mary Ellen Beliveau. Source: K2P

Physicians have an hourly requirement of CME credits (the exact number depends on the state) to keep their license. K2P’s model eliminates physicians’ need to attend that training offsite: an act that can increase the time physicians spend with their patients while decreasing healthcare system costs. According to healthcare consultant SullivanCotter, hospitals and healthcare systems spend between $3,500 and $5,000 per physician for continuing medical education — and there were over 985,000 licensed physicians in the United States in 2018. Hospital systems thus paid between $3.4 billion and $4.9 billion in 2018 (about $3.5 billion and $5 billion in 2020 dollars) to ensure that their physicians can access the most updated and highest quality information.

Board reviews, which physicians are also required to take to maintain their certification, are additional costs. The American Board of Internal Medicine’s fees are $650 for a traditional board review exam for internal medicine or a focused practice in hospital medicine (with a $1,200 cost for each sub-specialty). A Knowledge Check-In (KCI), a program that is available to physicians in some specialties starting in 2020, replaces the 10 year review with a check-in every two years, and costs $130 with another $240 required for each subspecialty. Those fees, though, do not include the additional costs of an instructor, classroom, or another physical learning environment, transportation, lodging, or the hours spent reviewing, traveling, and sitting for the exams.

They also do not take into account the risk of sunk costs. Board review prep and CME content can often be across-the-board education that doesn’t account for individual physician’s own strengths and weaknesses. In these cases, hospitals and healthcare systems are paying physicians to learn what they might already know — spending money without receiving any benefit. In fact, in its 2018 study, K2P reported that average users needed to concentrate on only 25% of the content available in a comprehensive board review course. K2P, in contrast to a one-size-fits-all method, offers personalized content, allowing physicians to assess their current competency level and to find the right content for their needs. This approach saves both money and time: K2P’s personalized approach to board reviews and to CME reduces study time by 75%, giving significant time back to increasingly time-starved physicians.

Since its launch in 2013, K2P has seen the positive effects of its approach.

K2P’s impact on physician education. Source: K2P

In 2019, the company shared that, out of its 5,000 physician users at the time, 94% implemented changes in practice, 96% found the product intuitive, and 98% reported superior learning on K2P’s platform than on its competitors’. K2P currently offers 400+ hours of content across six programs in three different focus areas: “Comprehensive Curriculum” (“CV Updates®” and “IM Essentials®”), “Board Review” (“Cardiology” and “Internal Medicine”) and “Emerging Medicine” (“CurrentMD® CV” and “CurrentMD® COVID”).

The company launched CurrentMD® COVID in the summer of 2020 in response to the global pandemic and made it available at no cost to physicians in South Carolina. Dr. Michael Finch, President of the South Carolina Medical Association, describes CurrentMD® COVID as a “cutting-edge” educational platform that helps physicians deliver “the best care to their patients during this pandemic” and stay “on the frontline of the most recent information.” In July 2020, when K2P launched its CurrentMD COVID program in South Carolina, the state was ranked the third worst place in the world for COVID transmission. On October 7, 2020, when this article was being drafted, health officials reported South Carolina had the lowest transmission rate in the country.)

In 2020, Dr. Ashish Khanna MD, FCCP, FCCM, Associate Professor at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, reviewed K2P saying, “K2P has the expertise to provide a ready and easily accessible portal that collates new information and translates it into relevant clinical case studies and best practice scenarios.” He also noted that the company’s “lifelong learning model…can provide immense benefit to a dynamic specialty like critical care.” Dr. Khanna’s comments summarize the reasons we invested in K2P: it is easily accessible, provides relevant information, and is an immense benefit to its users. While K2P has a SaaS model, unlike our other portfolio companies, it is ultimately focused on the same goal as they are: giving patients the highest quality of care — all while helping hospitals, and healthcare systems save money and time. In this way, K2P truly lives up to its name: its informative, personalized approach allows physicians an efficient and effective way to review for their boards, to continue their medical education, and to turn their knowledge into practice.

At Avestria Ventures, we look for early-stage women’s health and female-led life science companies with products or technologies that improve healthcare quality and/or access, lower costs, induce clinical or behavioral change, are evidence based, have scalable commercialization plans, and have a sustainable competitive advantage. Know one? Contact us via our website, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

Investing in early-stage women’s health and female-led life sciences companies.

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