The Centerton couple are developing a new app that helps caregivers of medically complex children
A northwest Arkansas startup has launched a web-based app that helps parents and caregivers simplify, organize, and share their child’s medical and care information.
The app is called mejo, a registered trademark. Centerton founder Ryan Sheedy said he wanted a way to humanize the data found in medical records and make a child “more than just their diagnosis.” Sheedy and his wife, Ashley Gibbs, have three young boys, one of whom has an ultra-rare genetic condition called Costello Syndrome.
“I’m a father who goes through this; we are a family going through this,” he said. “If it was just a company with an idea, it wouldn’t resonate. We’ve never built a startup before and don’t have a background in healthcare. We’re passionate about helping.
Sheedy developed the first beta prototype of mejo a few years ago just for his family. The app went live on June 6 this year and had over 400 users from all over the country in the first month.
Sheedy said he and his wife started the business — “we’re scrappy but smart,” he joked — but a pair of angel investors have also backed mejo. Businessman and entrepreneur Nick Dozier and pediatrician Bryan Harvey, both of Rogers, are personal friends of Sheedy.
Harvey, a pediatrician for nearly 30 years, said it was essential to have a standardized tool for parents to succinctly document and track what is happening with their child’s health and care network. This is especially true when trying to accurately convey information to busy and sometimes unknown vendors.
Harvey said he invested in mejo because of its unique nature in the healthcare market.
“They hand-built an app that reflects what they found necessary to do this in the best possible way,” Harvey said. “It’s a game-changer for parents and caregivers.”
Dozier and Sheedy once worked at the same company and have known each other for almost a decade. Successful or not, Dozier said he invested in Sheedy’s idea because of his altruistic factor.
“Mejo was created for the ‘right’ reasons,” he said. “He [Sheedy] created it out of love, out of necessity and trying to help. In very early stage investments, you invest more in people than in the product. In the case of mejo, you have a solid founder and an even more powerful product that solves a real problem and helps so many. It’s a combination for success.
Sheedy said the company will soon open a pre-seed fundraiser with a goal of $500,000.
“Right now it’s 100% free,” Sheedy said. “Users own their data, but our goal is to get enough users to be able to create other offers to generate revenue. Increasing the number of users will allow us to train [business] partnerships to grow the business.
Sheedy has had preliminary discussions with various rare disease organizations. He will also speak in September at the RARE Patient Advocacy Summit in San Diego. The non-profit group Global Genes organizes the event each year as one of the world’s largest gatherings of rare disease patients, caregivers, advocates, medical professionals and researchers.
HOW IT WORKS
Mejo offers parents a new way to organize and share a child’s most important medical and healthcare information for all life situations. Specifically, medically complex children who require ongoing medical care.
The goal is to help simplify the complexities of the medical world for parents by giving them a product to print or save and take with them to appointments, to share during an unexpected medical emergency, or to keep handy for a babysitter.
Sheedy said in his initial research he didn’t find any similar apps for what he envisioned.
“Nothing as high, wide and deep as what I wanted to build,” he said. “There are apps available to feed the information, but there is no output. If I can’t share it, then it’s only good for me.
“No caregiver told us, ‘This [mejo] looks like an app I use.
Sheedy said keeping track of everything is complicated and time-consuming, regardless of a child’s age or medical situation. Mejo is a unique tool that builds a medical diary tailored to a child’s unique situation.
“Most of the information is scattered across multiple platforms that don’t speak to the caregiver in a way that makes sense to them,” Sheedy said. “We wanted to humanize the data in medical records and make a child more than their diagnosis. Whether you have a medically complex child or not, mejo can help every parent feel more organized and prepared.
Mejo allows a parent to quickly create an explicitly tailored medical diary for their child through the web application. From medical conditions and allergies to fun facts that make their child unique – think “loves getting high fives” or “afraid of needles” – mejo compiles a child’s essential details into one document that a parent can save and Quickly share via text or email.
Last November, Bret Koncak, a former executive at electronic health records company Cerner, joined mejo as a co-founder. He met Sheedy through a mutual friend and brings more than 20 years of healthcare and IT experience to the company.
“It’s really important that we launch a product that makes it easier for parents,” Koncak said. “Parents already juggle a lot on a daily basis. Our goal is to provide them with a safe and secure solution that makes it easy to organize and share custody information about their children. »
DEC. 8, 2017
Their professional careers brought Sheedy and Gibbs separately to northwest Arkansas about a decade ago. They finally met and recently celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary. She is from North Carolina and he is from Pennsylvania.
Gibbs is vice president of marketing for Sam’s Club in Bentonville. Sheedy has been a stay-at-home dad for over four years.
“I always thought I wanted to be a CEO and run my own business; basically I am now – it’s called a home,” he joked. “We have three young sons and one with special needs.”
Sheedy and Gibbs became parents to twins on December 8, 2017, one of whom was born with Costello syndrome, an extremely rare genetic condition with fewer than 1,000 cases worldwide.
According to the kidshealth.org website, Costello syndrome occurs when there is a genetic mutation in the HRAS gene. It occurs in a child’s DNA before birth. Costello syndrome causes problems that affect the heart, muscles, bones, skin, brain, and spinal cord. The disease is incurable, but doctors can help children manage most symptoms.
Sheedy said her son has had more surgeries than most families combined and spent more than 100 days in the NICU unit at Arkansas Children’s Campuses in Springdale and Little Rock.
Sitting at the NICU a few years ago is where the mejo concept began. Sheedy said that by managing countless specialists, coordinating surgeries, administering medication hourly and searching for answers, the family has experienced most health care situations.
“Our goal is to empower caregivers and parents to provide the best possible care,” he said. “Most don’t work in healthcare or speak ‘medical’. We just need the summary. Personal medical records lack the human element. Mejo is not just about drugs, surgeries, height and weight. It also helps keep track of the things that make your little one unique.
“Knowing that a child likes dinosaurs, bright colors, the song ‘Baby Shark’ or that they only eat with a g-tube is just as important as their medication or their blood type.”