USC medical student Mike Kwon saw discrepancies in America’s healthcare system firsthand. After rotating through LAC+USC Medical Center, Kwon went to New York City’s Upper East Side for a family medicine rotation. In a practice that serviced the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans, an even smaller percentage of patients could access concierge house call services.
Back on campus, Kwon felt sick and was sure he had strep throat. However, he needed a doctor to confirm the diagnosis and prescribe him medication, but had to wait three weeks to see one. Kwon wondered why concierge services like he saw in New York could not be made available to the general public.
Kwon is completing his master’s degree in biomedical engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and his M.D. from the Keck School of Medicine of USC. He entered the Health, Technology, and Engineering (HTE@USC) program that combines engineering and medicine to promote healthcare advances. “I came to USC because of HTE@USC.” Kwon said.
He’s working on making that kind of health service a reality with WhiteCoat, a website and app that brings a nurse practitioner to a patient’s home. With Angella Nguyen and Emilianos Ellinas, whom he met in a technology-feasibility class while pursuing the USC Marshall School of Business Certificate in Technology Commercialization, he drew on his experiences. Registered providers login to WhiteCoat as “available.” When a patient needs care and enters their information, a list of available area providers appears and an appointment is made.
“WhiteCoat’s mission is to offer every patient the opportunity for an affordable house call, a service traditionally not available to the masses,” Kwon said.
WhiteCoat received initial funding from the USC Coulter Translational Research Partnership Program, which sparked additional funding, allowing the team to move to a startup incubator, build a prototype and hire more staff.
Kwon credits USC’s interdisciplinary programs for WhiteCoat’s successes.
“I thank USC. At Keck I had the opportunity to see discrepancies in healthcare. In the HTE program, I saw the intersection of health and engineering. In biomedical engineering I saw the engineering side of healthcare,” he said.
Whitecoat.healthcare launched last year. Kwon serves as CEO and head of healthcare operations; Nguyen is responsible for marketing; Ellinas oversees WhiteCoat’s operations and strategy; and Ryan Kaminsky came on as the head of product development.
“My dream,” Kwon said, “is to build WhiteCoat, allow it to grow, and then become a doctor and use this myself.”