Preferral Logo

A Brentwood startup in the healthcare community has been acquired by an e-consulting firm headquartered in California.

Preferral was founded in 2014 as a growing health tech firm marketing a platform that centralizes and improves the efficiency of the medical-referral pipeline. At seven years old, the company boasts of software that facilitates primary physicians getting in touch with specialists, correlating insurance plans and setting appointments.

This has drawn the attention of AristaMD, a San Diego venture whose technology enables physicians to execute virtual consultations with specialists while they have their patients in the office or hospital. AristaMD intends to supplement this service with the Preferral platform because the eConsult still depends on the referral process, which remains largely antiquated for many physicians.

While attending Notre Dame, John Gautsch was inspired to develop the platform upon realizing that his father, an orthopedic surgeon, still got referrals from doctors by phone or fax. Gautsch is now chief technology officer at Preferral under CEO Jim Aylward, who is expected to maintain his executive position for 30 days to complete a transition period before stepping down.

AristaMD will be able to set up its eConsult with a more efficient referral process, and in the event a specialist needs a follow-up visit, that will ideally be just as seamless.

The Nashville Business Journal reported that, as of 2017, Aylward expected effective marketing of Preferral to get result in the company’s eventual acquisition.

AristaMD lures investment from major corporations like .406 Ventures, Ascension Ventures, Cigna Ventures and the MemorialCare Innovation Fund as of July 2020 when the firm’s Series B financing round reached completion with $24 million. According to a press release announcing the success of that venture stage, the pandemic has made these solutions increasingly imperative.

This marks the third health tech company Aylward has helped develop and sell in Middle Tennessee. Before Preferral, he helped expand MedCenterDisplay — also out of Brentwood — and led the company to be acquired by PatientPoint in Cincinnati.

Prior to that in 2012, he similarly captained Sy.Med Development Inc. when it was sold to Nashville’s HealthStream.