Couple of weeks back Microsoft’s HealthVault announced a strategic partnership with McKesson’ RelayHealth for which I wrote a short post. Following up on the announcement, I recently had the opportunity to speak with RelayHealth’s General Manager, Ken Tarkoff, who provided further background on this partnership.
Key Points from Interview:
A strategic partnership, there is co-development commitment to create new capabilities. One of those capabilities will be a “HealthVault Provider Directory” listing providers currently using RelayHealth that one can access through HealthVault. Another will be the ability to enable bi-directional data flow between RelayHealth and HealthVault. As there are literally thousands of physicians using RelayHealth today, this has the potential to significantly increase the clinical data that a consumer may control within their HealthVault account, data provided by their RelayHealth-enabled physician. This capability will be available in about 6-9 months.
One can also expect these two partners to work closely on enabling RelayHealth to accept biometric data (something it cannot do today) from a consumer’s HealthVault account. This will go along way towards enabling telehealth within RelayHealth that physicians could leverage to further their value proposition to the end consumer.
Last and certainly not least, I believe these these two will work on developing the capability to enable a consumer to initiate secure communications from within their HealthVault account to schedule appointments, request prescription refills and even have an e-Consult, or in RelayHealth parlance, a webVisit.
Partnership extends beyond co-development and includes leveraging respective channels to market. RelayHealth has no intention of going direct to consumer, they target physicians and to a lesser extent health plans. Microsoft knows consumer marketing. Together, they will go to these markets to gain market acceptance and growth.
This is not exclusive and RelayHealth will be seeking partnerships with other Personal Health Systems, e.g., Google Health.
RelayHealth is now in the process of identifying a select group of physician practices (>10) as part of an early adopter program. These early adopters will assist in development by providing critical feedback over the next 6-12 months.
Putting on my analyst hat…
I have the following observations:
Secure, digital communication is a feature that is highly valued by many consumers, but something that to date has not been readily enabled within any of the PHSs. Sure there is Medem who sells to physicians a communication platform and is a partner of HealthVault as well, but their platform is not as sophisticated as the one from RelayHealth and their market penetration is small. Kryptiq is another HealthVault partner who also provides similar functionality, but does not have near the presence or installed base of RelayHealth. With RelayHealth, Microsoft has signed on one of the largest, pseudo-independent, (it is a part of McKeson but is installed in a multitude of different EMR environments) physician-consumer communication providers in the market. This has the potential to significantly increase the cache of HealthVault among the physician community.
RelayHealth in turn now has the opportunity, through strategic co-development, to build some pretty exciting capabilities into the RelayHealth platform that leverage the HealthVault data repository. Primary among them is the ability to accept biometric data, but beyond that, there is an ability or the consumer to share a more complete record that is stored in HealthVault with their physician via RelayHealth. This may become a significant value-add for their physician customers as it enables physicians to extend their service offerings via telehealth services as well as provide a higher level of service.
For the consumer and the physician, the future ability to have bi-directional flow of data into and out of a consumer’s HealthVault account (of course the consumer would initiate such actions) will significantly contribute to automating workflow for both parties by auto-populating specific data fields increasing data liquidity. Without the data, actions can not be instigated and the goal here, be it care, disease or wellness management is to provide actionable data.
The most significant challenge that both will face is to get physicians comfortable with sharing data beyond the confines of their practice. It is one thing to share data in the secure RelayHealth environment that physicians use today, quite another to get physicians comfortable with the idea of moving that data into a consumer-controlled environment such as HealthVault.
While flying down to DC earlier this week, I sat next to Brian, a systems engineer from MITRE. We got to talking when I asked him about his iPhone, which led to discussions of HIT and ultimately learned that his physician practice uses RelayHealth, which he really appreciates as it simplifies interaction with his physician.
Using the iPhone, we went to his physician practice’s website and onto the RelayHealth portion. He added the link to his iPhone creating a small icon of the website. Pretty slick but could have been much better as the icon was tiny, ill-descriptive and certainly not optimized for the iPhone.
Brian tells me the Apple SDK is very elegant and it is quite easy to develop apps for the iPhone. So RelayHealth, when will you have a special iPhone app that one can pick-up at the AppStore?