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October 22, 1999


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Not What the Doctor Ordered

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Arthur J Pais in New York

Twenty-eight-year-old Durjoy (Ace) Bhattacharjya hadn't expected to spend many hours with his doctor. But when you have a kidney stone, you see not only your primary care doctor but a slew of other physicians. And you have to repeat your symptoms to each of them, making sure they also get reports from their professional colleagues who went over you.

Dealing with medical red tape certainly is not as painful as dealing with a kidney stone but it was painful enough for Bhattacharjya to wonder if could be a more sensible way of storing and retrieving the medical information doctors need to review.

"There are a lot of companies that take care of hospitals and medical organizations," says Bhattacharjya. "But who is there to help us the patients deal with their medical records?"

The son of a physician, Bhattacharjya started wondering about empowering the patient.

Usha Shanmugam had similar problems when she started consulting doctors last year for her migraine.

"Both of us were annoyed with our doctors," Bhattacharjya says. "And we thought we were not unique. Sure enough, there were many others who have been wondering if there was a way to make the consultation process easier and more efficient."

So Bhattacharjya, Shanmugam and five others established think they can make life a lot easier not only for patients but for doctors too.

Started in spring this year, hopes to be a leading Internet destination for the organization, management and storage of personal medical and health information.

It will enable users to monitor all aspects of their health online, track health-related issues and join communities with shared interests, while eliminating many of the administrative details associated with the management of personal health information.

" provides the information and tools necessary to transform raw data into actionable knowledge, thus empowering people to better manage their health," says Shanmugam.

Bhattacharjya continues explaining how works:

"After filling out an easy to use Health Interview on the web site, the user will be have one central place to store personal health-related information for themselves or their family."

The services offered include a calendar to manage doctor's appointments, a daily fitness and diet planner, pager and e-mail reminders for medications, personalized content and moderated message boards.

The company sees itself as a "Quicken for your health information", not just a place to store records, but a place to set and achieve health goals.

"Imagine you are an overweight person," says Bhattacharjya. "We will get the key data from you, find out how overweight you are, let you know the hazards associated with extra weight, and offer you insights and programs dealing with your problem."

Bhattacharjya and Shanmugam, who are in their late 20s, were partly inspired to start the on-line patient empowerment business after seeing the success of several Internet services, particularly that of, started five years ago by four Indian Americans -- Sundeep Bhan, Rajnish Kapoor, Sanjay Pingle and Sameer Shariff.

Headquartered in New York, Medsite calls itself the physician's home on the Internet. The firm, which operates, offers a comprehensive range of user-friendly solutions in the categories of medical e-commerce, medical information, and communication services. Building on its first Internet business, MedBookStore, Medsite has become a healthcare destination site offering an extensive selection of medical books, software, journals and supplies, electronic physician credentialing, the latest medical news, a customizable finance channel and numerous other services, geared towards "making your practice click".

The firm, which has the world's largest medical bookshop, draws over 12,000 visitors a day and has approximately 150,000 registered users. Articles about it have appeared in leading magazines, including Forbes.

"While we were brainstorming about our project, we noticed that after shopping, health care is the most searched of Internet sites," Bhattacharjya says.

The NYC-based company has seven full-time employees and 20 part-timers. It plans to launch its beta site in Q4 1999.

"We did not need big money to start this," says Bhattacharjya. "Our ideas were big and so was our enthusiasm."

"That is why we have an inter-disciplinary team of inventive people who have been through some of the best schools in America, including Yale and Harvard, and worked for top firms." Among them is a medical doctor who has degrees in engineering and business.

Bhattacharjya, who has a background in interactive production and marketing, worked for Ogilvy Interactive as the lead producer for, the database-driven web presence for Ford Motor Corporation. He also produced numerous projects for IBM, including the PartnerInfo web site, a corporate communications vehicle for IBM business partners.

Before Bhattacharjya joined Ogilvy in 1997, he acted as an IT consultant for companies looking to develop their web presence and strategy. He traveled to south Asia to work for Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa Telecom after graduating from Boston University in 1993 with a BA in international relations.

Usha Shanmugam began working for A&E Television Networks on programming, including Biography, The History Channel and The History Channel International seven years ago. In 1997, she joined her family's business, the privately held SCI Engineering, where she reorganized and restructured the financial, accounting and MIS departments. Shanmugam received a BA in political science and an MA in communications from New York University.

Matt Berlin joined in October this year after three years as a chief financial officer with the Government of the District of Columbia. In Washington, he supervised financial operations, accounting and financial planning, for the city's technology, economic development, library and recreation agencies.

He served as a financial advisor structuring municipal debt financing in the government of the District of Columbia. Prior to his that, Berlin had worked in health care, managing community primary care centers and raising venture capital for and helping start a Medicaid HMO.

Berlin received his MBA from Yale University in 1995 and his BA with a major in religion from Wesleyan University in 1983.

Sonny Patel, MD, joined in March 1999. He is currently a Clinical Fellow in the Department of Radiology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School.

Dr Patel graduated from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, Chicago Medical School and Boston, University College of Engineering, with a BS in electrical engineering.

Manish Mukherjee has been designing, programming and implementing web sites since 1996 and corporate intranet sites since 1992. Most recently, Mukherjee has consulted independently as lead programmer for clients such as Ogilvy Interactive/IBM, TDK Electronics and BMG Entertainment. Prior to that, as a senior consultant at XLConnect Solutions (now XeroxConnect), he lead projects for MCI and Turner Broadcasting, among others.

Mukherjee specializes in putting together applications and web sites with complex database-driven back-ends.

Mukherjee received a BA in south Asian studies and computer science from Columbia University and is completing his MBA at Columbia Business School with a concentration in entrepreneurship.

John Mamus joined in February 1999 and is currently with OgilvyOne as creative director. There, he designs interactive campaigns for clients like Lotus, IBM, GTE, Jaguar and the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Mamus was formerly at Young & Rubicam, New York, working on special projects for prints, TV and multimedia.

He became design director and was a founding member of the New Technologies Group (now Brand Dialogue) designing for clients such as Xerox, Philip Morris USA, Brita, Digital, Fisher Price, Whitehall Robins and Novell. Mamus attended the New York Institute and received a Fine Arts degree in computer graphics.

For more information, contact Durjoy (Ace) Bhattacharjya,, at 212.695.4445 x26 or; 212-695-4445, ext.15.

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