Brothers and Rochester natives Keith and Kevin Kallmes are looking to take their business, Superior Medical Editing, to the next level. This nimble company provides customizable medical writing and editing services to make physicians more productive. Business for the brothers has taken off within the last six months; they are currently looking to nearly double their team to keep up with demand and continue to fulfill the evolving needs of their customers.
The basic idea of Superior Medical Editing is quite simple. The business essentially is a connector, linking people who have research experience and time to those who have research needs. Incorporated in 2015, the company offers a suite of medical writing and editing services to increase research physicians’ writing and publishing productivity. While the company can tailor their services to each customer, their real expertise is in medical writing- the creation of scientific documents such as case reports, journal manuscripts, and medical regulatory documents.
“Our vision is to take every bit of work that a non-expert can do off an expert’s hands,” explained Kevin Kallmes. “When a physician is writing a paper, the physician should give physician-level input. They don’t need to do anything below that.”
Beyond developing the main idea of the manuscript, gathering the data, and providing the methodology and final approval, the Superior Medical Editing team performs all of the paper writing process for the physician to help them submit more medical papers and have increased time for their patients.
“In addition to taking all of the non-expert work off of a physician’s plate, without our own organization, we never have someone doing something below his paygrade,” explained Keith Kallmes.
The Superior Medical Editing team utilizes a “hierarchy of competence” to draft, edit, and write medical documents, provide literature review, analyze and interpret data, and churn out statistics for medical papers. This hierarchy typically involves a team of four- depending on the complexity of the manuscript- including a medical writer, who is the leading force on the paper, a research assistant, who does the bulk of the literature review and figure making, a biostatistician, and a highly specialized physician consultant.
In the beginning stages of the business, Kevin thought he might be the sole medical writer, while brother Keith would bring in the clients for the business. The budding entrepreneurs quickly understood that a single medical writer, unless operating in a specific field in which they had lengthy experience, would not be very effective.
“If you want to freelance, you cannot do it efficiently. You have to have a system and you have to have a hierarchy of competency,” explained Kevin.
Currently, the brothers have five specialists who work day-to-day with Superior Medical Editing as either medical writers or research assistants to the medical writers. These positions are typically filled by graduate or recently graduated students from biomedical or biological science programs or those looking to gain experience before medical school. The company also contracts with ten physician specialists on a per-project basis for their specific, expert input.
The team is entirely virtual, although most contractors with Superior Medical Editing reside in the Twin Cities area.
The business does have competitors- particularly the freelance medical writer- but no one is following quite the same path. Instead of providing medical writing services in all medical fields, the team is instead focused primarily in neurology- including neuroscience, neurosurgery, and neuroradiology- to provide hyper-specialized expertise. They have also expanded into radiology and orthopedic fields.
A neurology focus was the perfect spot for the brothers to start. They grew up “with the language of aneurism and stroke” from neurointerventional radiologist father David Kallmes. Additionally, the brothers say this field usually includes physicians from the top of their medical class who are academically interested, but don’t have the time to churn out as much writing as they would desire.
“We came in thinking, what would a physician want to make their lives easier,” explained Kevin Kallmes. They did not want to teach physicians how to use another platform or another mobile application.
“We don’t think that that’s what’s going to drive productivity gain,” explained Keith. “I think people have lost sight of humans helping other humans.”
Instead, the team sees themselves as “extenders” for physicians, helping them to submit five or six times as many medical papers each year with the same effort on the part of the physician.
“We don’t think we’re better than the physician. We think that we make the physician better,” said Kevin.
The business has experienced a massive inflection point over the past six months and is responding to customer needs by developing new services.
“We’re very risk avid, but we also like to see the payoff from what we’re doing,” explained Kevin.
Their latest push involves development of an improved patient data management platform, which would dramatically enrich their overall business.
“Just like our writing service is intensely trying to help the individual physician write, we want something that intensely helps the individual physician manage their own data,” Kevin explained.
If the team received all the necessary data from the physician right away, the brothers predict they could complete a paper in two weeks instead of their current sixty-day average. Most of this hold-up is from “communication friction,” something they’ve had to tackle in dealings with both the physicians and their virtual writing team. The brothers say there’s still much streamlining that could be done to make the process more efficient.
Developing their management skills has been essential to overcome this issue, especially when dealing with people sometimes twice their age.
“We’re always younger than people expect when we show up to a meeting with someone that we were collaborating with,” explained Kevin.
The brothers say they are “strange ducks” in medical entrepreneurship, with non-traditional backgrounds. Kevin is a current law student a Duke University; Keith is a recent graduate from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities with a double major in Economics and History.
Now, the brothers are embarking on a major hiring push to, hopefully, double their staff within the next three months.
“We’re very ambitious to expand our mission. We don’t want to sit around and be a five-person deal. We need to tap into that youthful energy,” said Kevin.
The team is looking to add on self-driven individuals with biological science training who want to begin writing. The brothers say this is excellent experience for anyone looking to develop their science career, especially those getting ready for medical school.