Online medical service Medology seeks a revolution in care
Published 8:01 pm, Wednesday, November 1, 2017
It is not terribly unusual for highly driven workers to wear their feelings on their sleeves. Wearing love of company inked onto flesh is, however, something of a departure.
Yet there it is, in the break room at Medology, a Houston-based online health care service company: a photo gallery of the more than a dozen tats that employees have permanently etched onto themselves bearing the name of the company as a show of commitment.
"It's really good for retention," joked Fiyyaz Pirani, the 28-year-old CEO and founder of the 7-year-old company that now has more than 60 employees, about one in four bearing Medology tattoos. Medology came in at No. 1 on the Chronicle's Top Workplaces small companies list.
While Pirani insists such marking is entirely voluntary, he does acknowledge that anyone who goes the tattoo route gets an 8 percent pay bump.
The unusual perk is just part and parcel of the unusual story of a rapidly growing company that seeks to turn the medical testing on its head.
Pirani, an entrepreneurial wunderkind who launched his first company in high school, came up with the idea of streamlining what he saw as the cumbersome process for an increasingly tech-savvy public.
What he envisioned was a way for people to skip the step of getting a doctor's appointment in order to prescribe a test that is then completed by a separate lab. The chain of events can add days to getting results and can sometimes discourage access, he said.
Through Medology, patients go to its website and find the tests they need and then order them like any other online purchase. It could be a simple allergy test or as anxiety-producing as a screening for a sexually transmitted disease.
Patients pay online - no insurance accepted - and they receive emailed orders that they then take to authorized testing sites, which will collect the samples and run the tests. The results are then returned to Medology. If the results are normal, they are released directly to the patients. If a problem is spotted, one of the company's affiliated physicians will contact the patient for a consultation.
Pirani calls his company part of the revolution of patient empowerment that is taking hold in the health care world.
While Medology has a handful of competitors, he said his company controls about 70 percent of the market share, and it continues to grow.
It is on its fifth office space in seven years at it keeps outgrowing previous ones. The current decor is one of hip minimalism, with Lego-inspired walls that can be reconfigured as needed.
Medology operates in 48 states. The only exceptions are Hawaii and North Dakota. While he demurs on the volume of business, Pirani offers an example of the urgency of his service:
"We diagnose an HIV infection once a day," he said, adding that the online confidentiality of his service offers access to a population that may avoid such testing in traditional venues.
He said Medology is "very close" to so-called unicorn status, or a startup valued at more than $1 billion.
Pirani said his employees are loyal even as they are pushed hard. Metrics of productivity are displayed through the offices to make sure everyone knows who is doing well and who needs to catch up. He said that such competitiveness is woven into the tech world, and pushback is rare among those who gravitate toward it.
Team atmosphere is fostered through the twice-a-week group lunches, and every employee is expected to attend at least one conference a year on the company's dime to bring back new ideas.
"The future of medicine is on-demand," he said. "We are the Uber of phlebotomy."