The best possible scenario for most college roommates is gaining a lifelong friendship, but for Michael Perretta and Nathan Scott, roommates at George Washington University in 2008, they gained something beyond that: a business partnership that would forever change the way immunization data is shared.
After graduation, Nathan moved west and became a software engineer. Michael moved to Brooklyn, NY, working in Information Technology with Epic Systems where he helped hospitals with patient insurance plans. Michael didn’t enjoy the cubical life and the linear career trajectory that he saw ahead of him, so he began to brainstorm and pitch ideas to his coworkers and managers. Michael wanted to do something different, and if he wanted to do something different, he was advised to look outside of the corporate healthcare system.
Michael’s initial “different” idea was an appointment check-in app that let consumers curate their own medical history, connecting health data on their phones and sharing their data with their doctors by scanning a QR code. He was so excited about his concept—calling it “Docket”—that he rang up Nathan in Seattle in 2015 and asked him to be Chief Technology Officer.
Emptying his life savings in 2016, Michael officially got Docket off the ground with the help of Nathan and a handful of contractors, but he ran out of runway in just two weeks. Luckily, the pair got wind of the 2017 Move Health Data Forward Challenge, a competition pushing the health information technology industry to find new ways to put consumers in the driver’s seat when it came to how and when their health information could be shared. This type of health data initiative fell right in line with what Docket wanted to do, so they entered the competition and won first prize. They went home with $75,000 and even more motivation.
Later in 2017, Michael and Nathan were invited by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to present Docket at their national meeting. It was there they met the government organization’s CTO, Jim Daniel, who asked them to demo Docket to about 50 people. Afterward, Jim advised the founders to include immunization records on the app. This changed everything.
Pitching the app directly to doctors proved to be difficult, so Docket worked with HHS in an unofficial capacity from January 2018 to July 2019 to approach individual states’ healthcare systems. It was around this time that Docket entered the LifeBridge Health and CareFirst BlueCross Blue Shield (CareFirst) Innovation Challenge and made it to the finals. There, the judges asked Michael and Nathan who their target audience was, and they responded by saying: “Everybody needs this.” The reaction was… audible laughter. Of course, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic was just around the corner, and everybody would, in fact, have a need for an immunization data sharing app.
Finally, after Michael and Nathan sat in Salt Lake City doctors’ waiting rooms interviewing patients for feedback on the app, the Utah Department of Health gave them “a shot” in January of 2020, becoming the first official state to sign on.
COVID-19 arrived in the United States a few months later, propelling Docket’s work. The vaccines were a year away, giving Michael and Nathan and their contractors time to fine-tune the Docket app.
Today, Docket officially partners with the states of Utah, Alaska, Idaho, Minnesota, and New Jersey, giving those state residents easy access to their personal and family immunization records at no cost.
In 2023, with the help of a few contractors, Docket continues to be a two-man job—just two college roommates from 2008—and they have not taken investments from VCs or elsewhere. Michael left corporate America for a reason, to be different, allowing the founders to not only be in complete control of both the integrity and quality of the app, but also its destiny.
If you live in the states of Utah, Alaska, Idaho, Minnesota, or New Jersey, download the Docket app on your Appleor Android device today, and gain free access to your immunization records and show proof of your vaccines in a matter of seconds.