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Posts Tagged ‘Epic’

Just as Healtheway looks to ween itself off the federal gravy train, Surescripts comes along and in a couple of quick strokes looks ready to drive a stake into the heart of Healtheway or at least any desire Healtheway may have to become the Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN).

It all started when Surescripts acquired collaborative HIE messaging vendor Kryptiq in late August. This was quickly followed a week later with Surescripts’ announcement that it would become Epic’s vendor of choice for cross-EHR connectivity. It appears that Epic has finally succumbed to the inevitable; that it will need to open up its system (Epic’s purported Epic Elsewhere, to address cross EHR connectivity was in reality Epic Nowhere – just vaporware) to communicate in a heterogeneous EHR environment. The Surescripts Clinical Interoperability (CI) network solution will become an “Epic Unit” and on Epic’s price sheet. The details of this story were covered in our September Monthly Update for CAS subscribers.

What drove Epic to make such a drastic move? Pretty simple really, Stage Two meaningful use requirements which were released on August 23rd. Within those new requirements for certification, EHR vendors must demonstrate that they can send a message across EHR boundaries (outside their ecosystem). Epic really had no choice in the matter – they had to do something to address this requirement. Chilmark has also been hearing an ever louder drumbeat that Epic customers were also demanding that Epic do something to address messaging in a heterogeneous EHR environment. (Note: eClinicalWorks is another EHR vendor that was forced to open up their notoriously closed peer-to-peer networking service for clients, though eCW twisted it around to make it appear like an act of generosity.) Surescripts provided Epic an easy way out with a non-competing entity.

Last week, Surescripts announced that another major ambulatory EHR vendor would adopt the CI network, this time it was NextGen. Surescripts now has three of the top five ambulatory EHR vendors (Epic, GE, and NextGen) on its network. If one were to just look at the numbers, these three EHR vendors combined represent over 50% of practicing physicians in the US.

Surescripts is likely to add more EHR vendors in the coming months as these vendors look to grapple with the latest Stage 2 MU requirements for both Direct Secure Messaging (DSM) and cross EHR messaging. Adopting Surescripts CI network as a module into their existing EHR solves that issue in a non-competitive manner.

Surescripts’ intent is to leverage its core competency of providing lightweight, network services to reach beyond eRx to address basic clinical messaging. Some may argue that DSM accomplishes the same thing. Not really. The Kryptiq solution, upon which Surescripts’ CI network is built, provides collaborative, threaded messaging and not just the simple point-to-point messaging of DSM. Surescripts also brings to the table what is arguably the largest physician directory, that currently supports its eRx capabilities.

Surescripts jumping into the mix of HIE solution vendors will only complicate what is already becoming an increasingly competitive HIE market for services. In our 2012 HIE Market Trends Report we called such services as Surescripts’ CI a micro-HIE for they are self-forming, starting at the physician practice level, rather than being sponsored by some large entity, be it a public agency or larger hospital system. One of the findings of eHealth Initiative’s latest survey released last week is that HIEs are seeing increasing competition from other HIEs in their community. This competition will only increase with the advent of micro-HIEs.

Combining Surescripts’ existing national provider directory, its partnerships with three of the top five ambulatory EHRs and you have a truly, commercial NwHI – something that Healtheway wishes to become but has a long journey ahead to get there. This will likely force Healtheway to only tackle issues for its federal sponsors (Social Security Administration, Veteran’s Administration and to lesser extent Dept of Defense). Dreams beyond those limited confines will likely remain such if Surescripts is able to effectively execute on its own vision.

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As part of the process of setting our broader research agenda at Chilmark Research, we do a significant amount of secondary research combined with more limited, but highly focused primary research. We use this research to identify the “white spaces” where there appears to be a demand for some thoughtful, in-depth research and reporting that only an analyst firm such as Chilmark can provide. During that process, however, we often uncover some interesting trends similar to the HIE Snippets of the previous post.

Chilmark continues to follow the patient engagement realm, from mHealth Apps to PHRs, patient portals and personal health platforms such as Dossia and HealthVault. Recently, we have been receiving a significant number of inquiries from healthcare organizations that are developing IT strategies to meet Stage 2 meaningful use criteria to provide patients online access to their personal health information (PHI). We are also beginning to hear very early rumblings by a few forward thinking organizations on the use of new technology platforms, particularly mobile, to more deeply engage patients in managing their health in conjunction with impending value-based contracts. There have also been several announcements lately of roll-outs of Epic’s mobile patient engagement platform My Health. Lastly, earlier this week we had the pleasure to attend GE Healthcare’s Centricity Business National User’s Conference where we sat in on several patient engagement presentations. Following are some of the trends we are seeing that will be foundational to our future research on the topic:

HIE Vendors not up to task: A number of large healthcare organizations that have grown organically and through acquisition have a multitude of legacy IT systems from numerous vendors (not everyone is going Epic) in place. These organizations are now looking to link these systems together with an HIE solution and while they are at it, want to be able to provide patient access to their PHI. Problem is, most leading HIE vendors that have proven solutions for interfacing to multiple systems typically have poor patient-centric solutions. There are exceptions to every rule and companies such as RelayHealth and Kryptiq offer quite capable patient portals combined with secure messaging. But for those HIE solutions that lack such capabilities, healthcare organizations are having to look elsewhere to fulfill this need which is bringing business to MEDSEEK and Intuit Health.

Patient Portals interface first to transactions: Several of the presentations at the Centricity event were given by organizations with distinct clinical and administrative systems. Maybe it was just the venue, it was a Centricity Business Users’ Conference after all, but in each presentation on patient engagement the patient portal was driven from the admin-side. Sure, the portal could provide labs and some basic clinical data but it was really designed to help with the pre-registration process, appointment scheduling, secure messaging and Rx refill requests. Each organization we spoke to have plans to bring clinicals (some had Epic for clinicals, others Cerner) into the portal in the future to facilitate care processes for the truly sick, but that is a second order priority. This raises the question: Will front-end admin solutions, like Centricity’s Business Suite, become the core patient portal at the expense of those developed and offered by those from the clinical side of the fence?

Still in very, very early stages of mHealth App adoption: As mentioned previously, a number of organizations (Group Health Collaborative, Kaiser-Permanente, Stanford, UPenn Medical Center, etc.) have announced the release of an mHealth App for patient engagement, virtually all of them, My Chart instances. These releases are basically a mirroring of what is being done with patient portals mentioned above – enable transactional processes. We have yet to see anything, at any organization that has gone beyond pilot stage (e.g.WellDoc in Baltimore) in the deployment of a mHealth App to address a large at-risk population. This is puzzling for as we move to value-based contracts and accountable care, healthcare organizations will need to seriously rethink how they deliver health to chronic disease patients not just in the exam room, but at the patient’s home, in their car at work, wherever they may be to ensure compliance. mHealth can play a very effective role here but organizations’ reluctance to adopt is a chicken and egg scenario. There is not enough evidence to prove efficacy of mHealth Apps but if they don’t adopt, the evidence will not present itself. This will eventually break-thru, the question now is simply, when? And based on what we have seen in healthcare IT adoption to date, it could be a much longer wait than many VC firms and entrepreneurs currently have in their financial models.

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A little over a week ago Google stated that it was putting a stake through the heart of their personal health platform (PHP) Google Health. We at Chilmark had been expecting this for some time, it was just a manner of when it would become official. Thus, we were somewhat taken aback by all the publicity surrounding this final chapter with our own post on the topic receiving well over 40 comments and link-backs (that may be a record – thanks everyone for contributing to the story). With the closing of Google Health, we postulated in that post that Microsoft really had no other worthy competitor that will challenge them to continuously make enhancements to HealthVault. We may have spoken prematurely.

Stepping in to take the place of Google, is none other than an ol’school EHR company (and one of the largest), Cerner, who provided their own commentary on the demise of Google Health and their future intentions. Last week we had the opportunity to talk with the Cerner Health and learn more about those intentions but before getting to that, some quick background.

Taking a different tack:
Cerner has been in the HIT business now for 31+ years having grown to one of the leading EHR vendors in the market. You’ll usually find their systems (EHR: Millenium) in large healthcare organizations. This sector of the EHR market is seeing fierce competition as Epic seems to pick up one win after another at the expense of others, including Cerner. While continuing to go head-to-head with Epic, it appears that Cerner has also chosen to take a different tack, adopting a philosophy of: if you can’t beat them straight up, change the rules of the game.

In this year’s Annual Report, co-founder and chairman Neal Patterson spoke of Cerner’s origins, its staying power in the market but most importantly, the desire to transpose Cerner from a “care company” to a “health company” stating his belief that

…the business of health may eventually become a bigger business than the business of care.

In conversations with several Cerner executives, it becomes pretty clear that this company is truly looking to remake itself into one that adopts an open approach to not only sharing information (Cerner was very instrumental in the Direct Project) but provides a foundational “network of services” to enable “communities of care.” Those communities can be within a city, a region, an employer or a State. On the HIE front, Cerner recently won the Missouri State contract (not too surprising, it is in their backyard) but Cerner is also looking to land additional multi-stakeholder, HIE contracts with their partner Certify Data Systems. Unlike virtually all other EHR-derived HIE solutions, Cerner’s is actually pretty open and can interface readily with any EHR provided the EHR uses common data standards (e.g., CCD, CCR, etc.). But what may be even more interesting then what they have done in the HIE market, is what Cerner intends to do in the broader consumer market.

Cerner Health:
Last year at Health 2.0 a couple of representatives of Cerner made a fairly simple but engaging presentation on some of the gaming concepts they were developing which reminded one of some of the earlier developments at what is now Humana’s defunct skunkworks, Crumple It Up. Though a bit gimmicky, the presentation caught one’s attention as it was certainly out of character for any EHR vendor, let alone one of the leaders.

Now, some nine months later Cerner announced its intention to take Cerner Health beyond what Google Health was (not too hard to do). The leadership team at Cerner Health graciously hosted a call with Chilmark Research to further discuss exactly what those intentions are which are outlined below:

Provide a wide range of health & wellness services for employers.
Cerner has been eating its own “dog food” for the past year using Cerner Health to promote health & wellness among their employees who to date have lost a combined 12 tons of fat (take that Biggest Loser). This weight loss program will be rolled-out across Cerner’s home town of Kansas City (employers, providers, etc.) in two weeks. Cerner Health will target a number of other health & wellness areas, with programs that include built-in incentives. Clearly, Cerner is targeting WebMD in the employer market, a market that has seen very few comprehensive solution suites and WebMD has been milking that market for a longtime and is vulnerable.

Facilitate population health management – address “communities of care.”
For some time now, employers and payers have been looking to better manage their populations to lower medical loss ratios (MLRs). Providers will be looking to do the same as they take on a greater share of the risk via new contracts (e.g. BCBS-MA’s Alternative Quality Care contract) and future Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). Cerner Health intends to serve both employers and provider needs in this regard with “Health Graphs,” a conceptual analytics framework that combines multiple data streams to provide an accurate view of population health at the community level. The Health Graphs concept is still a bit fuzzy (as are most data analytics models to address this issue) but what we do like is the focus on communities. To be truly successful at addressing population health, one must operate from that community level. Cerner Health correctly perceives health as a community issue where within a given community, be it an employer, a hospital, a specific condition, a town, a region, etc., there are unique needs requiring a focused approach.

Provide a PHP with an ecosystem of third party apps and go direct to consumer.
Cerner Health will go head-to-head with HealthVault by offering a PHP with a published software development kit (SDK) for third party independent software vendors (ISVs) by year-end. This will enable an ecosystem of applications to potential sit on top of the Cerner Health stack. Currently, the SDK is undergoing testing with a limited set of beta ISVs to fully flush-out capabilities, documentation etc., before a broader roll-out. In addition to releasing the SDK at year-end, Cerner will also open the doors to any and all consumers/patients to store their personal health information (PHI) on the Cerner Health PHP. Similar to HealthVault, Cerner Health will support all leading data standards, Project Direct protocols, and certainly allow one to upload their Blue Button files to the PHP.

The big challenge for Cerner on the PHP front is soliciting ISVs to join. Many will perceive Cerner as a competitor to their own initiatives and one should not expect competing EHRs (Allscripts, eClinicalWorks, Epic, GE, Nextgen, etc.) to readily partner either. Where Cerner Health draws the lines of what it intends to take to market and what it will look to partners to provide remains unclear. In what is still a very immature market, this is not necessarily a bad thing but it will prove challenging for Cerner to build-out that ecosystem on the PHP without clearer articulation of intentions.

The Wrap:
Cerner’s entry into the health market is a bold move and hardly a slam-dunk. Reading between the lines, Cerner Health has an extremely broad charter that will likely bring it into competition with a wide range of vendors outside its traditional EHR haunts including Microsoft, Intuit and WebMD to the multitude of disease management firms and of course population health analytics firms such as Ingenix, Thomson Reuters, SAS and IBM. Have they bitten off more then they can chew? That’s a very real possibility. But one thing this company does have going for it is staying power and one would be foolish to discount them this early in what will be a very long race.

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SureScripts, A Defacto NHIN

Yesterday in New Orleans, SureScripts announced a new line of business: Clinical Interoperability. Leveraging their existing ePrescribing solution platform, currently serving over 200K physicians nationwide, and combining it with the technology stack of messaging solution provider Kryptiq, SureScripts will offer providers, EHR vendors, HIEs and other stakeholders the opportunity to securely share clinical information across town, the state, a region and the country. In this combination, SureScripts will provide the rails and Kryptiq will address the last mile of connectivity. This announcement has some pretty big implications for the HIE market.  Chilmark was briefed prior to this announcement by both SureScripts and Kryptiq, following is what we learned.

Details:
SureScripts primary focus has been to provide the network that would support physicians transition to ePrescribing. Therefore, SureScripts has been focused on transmitting NDP data and not clinical notes. SureScripts got into the transmission of clinical summaries from one of its larger customers, MinuteClinic wanted to send clinical summaries of patient visits directly to primary care providers. In the past year SureScripts has facilitated the movement of over 0ne million patient summaries for MinuteClinic to primary care physicians using CCR. Seeing an opportunity, SureScripts sought a partner that could take this capability to the next level.

Kryptiq, a company profiled in Chilmark’s forthcoming HIE Market Trends Report due out next month, can be characterized as vendor of HIE capabilities that allow for the organic growth of an HIE without the overhead. Kryptiq has worked behind the scenes for a number of EHR companies to provide secure, structured messaging services within these EHRss ecosystems of customers connecting them to one another as well as to other systems, including SureScripts to facilitate care coordination.

SureScripts has made an equity investment in Kryptiq (undisclosed but likely in the range $7-9M over the next few years) to build-out Kryptiq’s technology stack for SureScripts. The Clinical Interoperability solution will combine SureScripts foundational technology (provider directory, security, authentication, master patient index, etc.) with Kryptiq’s connectivity toolset (interface technology to various EHRs), secure messaging framework and clinical portal.

SureScripts will release the first wave of Clinical Interoperability products in early December. Pricing will be subscription-based (monthly) and depend on the level of service a given practice desires.

Implications:
SureScripts is the closest thing the US has to a de facto National Health Information Network (NHIN). With the rapid growth in ePrescribing (181% in 2009) representing over 600M prescriptions and now over 200K physicians connected to SureScripts, SureScripts has a network in place, particularly in the ambulatory sector, that few if any can boast of. Sure, Epic has its walled garden of Epic Everywhere and its future release of Epic Elsewhere will attempt to connect physicians using other EHRs, but the walled garden has not proven itself to be sustainable over time. Just look at AOL’s walled garden: fine in the early days of the Internet but was simply unable to innovate fast enough to satisfy market needs and wants.

As an EHR vendor neutral platform that actually puts EHR vendors through a rigorous process to provide them with SureScripts certification, SureScripts is not a threat. If anything, and this is highly dependent on what SureScripts may do in expanding its Clinical Interoperability product and services suite, SureScripts may provide a common foundational and commercial NHIN framework that will allow others, including EHR vendors to provide innovative solutions upon. This may lead to a Platform as a Service (PaaS) model facilitating the adoption of distinct modules that sit upon the SureScripts/Kryptiq communication network.

While both SureScripts and Kryptiq stated that they did not see themselves competing directly with HIE vendors, Chilmark sees quite the opposite. Through its ePrescribing services, SureScripts already has established data connections and relationships with a number of EHR vendors. Kryptiq, through its services, has the technology that provides the interfaces to a wide range of EHRs, many of them in the ambulatory sector where SureScripts is also strong. The combined SureScripts-Kryptiq solution suite will impact many an HIE vendor’s bottom-line for these HIE vendors generate a significant portion of revenue on EHR interfaces and their portal solutions. The SureScripts announcement is likely generating a significant number of internal meetings among HIE vendors as they assess what their game plan will be moving forward. If they are wise, they will seek out SureScripts and look at opportunities to collaborate, offering distinct value-added services on the SureScripts network.

While Chilmark was briefed prior to this announcement by both SureScripts and Kryptiq the briefing was short and details few. A more in-depth briefing will occur in the next week or two, including a deep dive into the technology stack. We’ll keep you posted.

Addendum:
John Halamka, CIO at BIDMC, was on the SureScripts panel yesterday at MGMA when this announcement was made. He provides his own perspective from the vantage point of one who is deeply involved in the Massachusetts HIE initiative.

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Introductory Remarks: Chilmark Research is pleased to welcome a new addition to our staff, Cora Sharma.  Cora will be leading our research efforts in the mobile health app market (mHealth) and below is her first post on the subject.  Cora has a great background having received a BSc in Computer Science, worked in the software sector for several years and recently graduated from MIT’s Sloan School of Business. While at Sloan, Cora did an internship with McKesson where she found her calling, HIT and the desire to become an analyst.  She’s a great addition to Chilmark Research and I’m confident she’ll produce some excellent research. – Stay tuned.

The concept of mobility in healthcare is nothing new to providers, vendors, and to Chilmark Research alike.  The current media and investor buzz surrounding mHealth stems from the belief that: 1) mobile technology has finally matured to a point where age-old healthcare processes can finally be revamped; and 2) mobile technology has not only matured but has actually been adopted en-mass by physicians and shows no signs of abating.

Doctors Love Smartphones, but are GaGa over the iPad
Recent reports from SpyGlass Consulting and Manhattan Research show that the vast majority of physicians already use smartphones. Pamela Dolan at the AMA has a nice commentary on these latest numbers. Chilmark Research’s recent talks with industry folks shows that the iPad is also gaining significant traction with physicians.  At a recent conference in Denver where Chilmark Research attended and spoke, the CIO of Catholic Health Initiative (CHI) sees providing their doctors with mobile apps (in CHI’s case on the iPad) as critical to the success of complying with meaningful use requirements.

mHealth Apps in Acute Care
Given that physicians have now ‘gone mobile’, does this imply that they will no longer be satisfied with computers-on-wheels (COWs), demanding mobile access to every piece of data buried in Health Information Systems (HIS)?   If yes, providing doctors with mobile access to patient and hospital data could be just the perk needed to attract more affiliated physicians, satisfy existing ones and ultimately drive the adoption and use of HIT by clinicians.

Here is a brief look at the mHealth acute care vendor landscape:

  • Pure play inpatient mobile solutions companies like PatientKeeper and MedAptus have built their businesses on providing clinicians with mobile apps, each having started with charge capture and quality measures.  PatientKeeper expanded into CPOE with a limited roll-out that is scheduled to go GA in 2011. As the mHealth market continues to gain momentum, it will be interesting to follow the fate of these two companies.
  • The big boys of HIS (Cerner, Eclipsys/Allscripts, Epic, GE Healthcare, McKesson, MEDITECH, Siemens) all have mHealth stories, albeit weak ones that revolve mostly around mobile browser access to their core EHR.  Early this year Epic released the Haiku app to Apple’s AppStore, resulting in some fanfare from the tech community.   Also, the Citrix Receiver app makes it possible to run Windows-based apps like McKesson and Cerner securely on the iPhone/iPad and Android, though with obvious usability issues associated with being a non-native app.
  • Potential entrants/disruptors from outside the industry face a battle with the big boys, who seem to want to reduce mobility to an extra feature on their systems.  Diversinet is making a play in secure doctor-doctor and doctor-patient communications for the enterprise. The company has made extensive investments to the tune of some $80M spent over the last decade developing IP in encryption and identity management.

mHealth Apps in Ambulatory
There are a multitude of physician content and productivity apps in the AppStore, from anatomical diagrams to medical calculators to ICD-9 lookup and arguably the most successful category, medical content apps.

Mobile medical content companies such as Epocrates and Medscape have had a presence on physicians’ phones/PDAs for years.   We are closely following Epocrates’ expansion into the SaaS EHR market.  If mobile EHR access is a truly compelling value proposition for ambulatory physicians (we aren’t convinced it is), then Epocrates may be able to leverage the brand’s mobile association and large, existing installed base to stand out from the 400+ competing EHR vendors.

A number of ambulatory EHR vendors (AllScripts, eClinicalWorks, Greenway and NextGen) have recently introduced their own EHR mobile apps, most built for Apple’s mobile OS. Currently, it appears that little is on offer from EHR vendors for Google’s Android mobile OS, though that may change as Android becomes an increasingly compelling alternative to Apple.

Onward Ho!
Dipping our research fingers into the mHealth market, Chilmark Research is launching a new initiative that will culminate in the report: Enterprise Adoption of mHealth apps: Trends, Issues and Challenges. Over the course of the next couple of months (target release date is in advance of NIH’s mHealth Summit in DC) we will interview executives from the major HIS vendors, best-of-breed vendors, tech entrants, and leading Hospitals/IDNs. Through both primary and secondary research we will answer such questions as:

  • What top mobile apps are currently being adopted in the enterprise?
  • What are the priority unmet needs among leading Hospitals/IDNs?
  • What challenges are currently hindering adoption of mHealth apps in the enterprise?

In the meantime we will be posting every other week specifically to give updates on our mHealth research.  Onward Ho!

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Today, GE announced the release of Centricity Advance, their solution for the ambulatory market. Centricity Advance is basically a build-out/rebranding of MedPlexus an SaaS EHR solution vendor that GE acquired in March 2010.  GE now joins others (see below) in the EHR market who are striving to provide a complete acute to ambulatory EHR portfolio.

AllScripts’ acquisition last week of Eclipsys.

NextGen, a traditional ambulatory EHR vendor whose parent, Quality Systems Inc. acquired Sphere Health Systems and Opus Healthcare Solutions to target rural acute care facilities.

While some may argue that the HITECH Act and meaningful use requirements are core drivers for these acquisitions (e.g. tap future incentives payments in new markets), the real reason is the need for large healthcare organizations to more closely align smaller affiliated practices to their operations in anticipation of healthcare/payment reform (bundled payments, patient-centered medical home, etc.). These large institutions are increasingly seeking out such fully integrated acute to ambulatory solutions and is one of the core reasons that EPIC (they started in ambulatory and grew organically into acute) has seen success in the market.  It remains to be seen if those pursuing an acquisition strategy will be as successful as EPIC for it often takes years for two systems to be combined in a truly integrated fashion.

Looking to the future, one has to wonder what will be the fate of those who remain in either just the acute or ambulatory sector.  Our quick assessment of a few of the ambulatory vendors…

athenahealth: athenaclinicals is new to the market and the company has an opportunity to tap its existing customer base. Short-term, they’ll stay independent but likely to be acquired in 3-5 years.

eClinicalWorks: Fiercely independent and will likely attempt to pursue a strategy similar to EPIC’s and grow organically and stay independent. Will make some niche app acquisitions where needed to accelerate time to market.

Greenway: Will be acquired in next 1-2 years.

Sage: Like Greenway, acquired in near future.

Practicefusion: Will stay independent, may be rolled-up into a larger offering from a bigger entity that comes from outside healthcare sector, e.g., minority investor Salesforce.com

Now this is only our educated guess (and we certainly welcome yours in the comment section below), but in our conversations with numerous stakeholders in the market, this guess is one we’d be willing to bet on.

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Today, New York Presbyterian (NYP) will announce a significant move forward in care coordination.  Working with Microsoft for over a year, these two have co-developed an impressive platform called MyNYP.org.  MyNYP.org is a consumer facing PHR solution for NYP customers that combines attributes of Microsoft’s two leading healthcare solutions, consumer-facing HealthVault and provider-facing Amalga.

In addition to using Microsoft’s Unified Intelligence System (UIS) Amalga, to aggregate and present patient data to physicians, it is also using Amalga to aggregate and push such information into a customer’s/patient’s MyNYP.org PHR account.  In doing so, NYP is providing the consumer the ability to access and export all of their NYP clinical records into their personally controlled HV account (see figure below).  This provides the consumer with the gold standard of health data, clinical, with the portability and data management capabilities of HV.

While NYP serves some 20% of population in New York City. The roll-out of MyNYP.org will occur in stages with the platform first being made available to cardiology and cardiac surgery patients.

mynyp

The impetus for MyNYP.org was NYP’s desire to “close the loop” of patient care upon discharge.  During my briefing with Microsoft execs I was presented the following scenario:

A customer of NYP is scheduled to have a procedure performed at an NYP facility.  The customer goes to their MyNYP.org account, which may have been previously established for them and enters pertinent data into their account to share with the NYP care team prior to the procedure (note, this could even include advanced directives that they have put in the HV account).  The information provided by the customer is used by the care team within NYP for advance planning to insure that the procedure goes smoothly.

Upon discharge from the facility, the customer is provided all the usually printed information including discharge summary, instructions, meds, etc.  This information is also available to the customer for them to export to their MyNYP.org account along with labs, clinical notes, EKGs, and other pertinent visit summary information which the customer can later share with their PCP. This scenario, “closes the loop” between, consumer, NYP and the ambulatory practice contributing to care continuity. All record transfers from NYP to a customer’s MyNYP.org/HV account are initiated by the consumer, supporting consumer consent & control.

Therefore, the MyNYP.org will address both the inbound informational needs of the facility prior to a visit as well as outbound needs of the consumer and their care team residing outside of NYP.  New York Presbyterian made it a point to stress that a key objective is to get visit summary information back into the hands of referring physicians, a growing issue for all hospitals.

Now a skeptic may say: “What’s the big deal?”

Here’s the deal:

MYNYP.ORG supports full portability and control of personal health records by the customer/consumer.

Many hospitals and IDNs currently offer a tethered-PHR with an oft-cited example being the excellent work done by Kaiser-Permanente with their MyChart, which now has customer adoption approaching 50%, an absolutely huge percentage.  Thing is, virtually all such tethered-PHRs are simply a consumer portal into the EMR to view their records.  The consumer has no real control of the PHR regarding access or portability – it is “locked” to the hospital.  Such silo’d PHR models do not support care continuity nor consumer control.  If you go to a competing hospital or a physician not associated with the hospital/IDN, it will be extremely difficult to share your records with them, unless of course one were to just share their password – not a great idea.

Combination of Amalga and HealthVault addresses vexing problem of aggregating data from disparate apps.

Most hospitals and IDNs have a huge collection of legacy software scattered across their facilities which can make it exceedingly difficult to aggregate and present a complete record of a customer’s history.  Yes, there are Master Patient Index (MPI) solutions and various interface engines and the like that try to bridge across and link all of this data to provide a complete record, but tying that to the patient-facing EMR portal/PHR is challenging to say the least.  Part of the success of KP’s PHR is that they are running their operations on a single EMR, EPIC and subsequently using the EPIC PHR, MyChart.  Most hospitals and IDNs resemble NYP, which has instances of Eclipsys, Misys, Cerner, GE Centricity and a host of other clinical apps.  Bringing together the capabilities of Amalga, as the aggregator with HealthVault as the PHR is an extremely attractive and compelling solution for virtually any medium to large-size hospital or IDN with a complex IT environment.

Relinquishing control to consumer supports care continuity in the community.

Consumers go to those facilities that provide the best and most convenient care.  Sometimes that may be the PCP, other times a retail clinic, if necessary a specialist, and occasionally a hospital.  The healthcare market is rapidly evolving to provide consumers with even greater choices, the problem is, with an increasing number of venues, there is no central entity responsible for aggregating all of health data, which is critical for care continuity.  The only one best suited to aggregate and manage the multiple records that result from all of these interactions is the consumer (although vast majority of consumers do not know that yet – but that is fodder for a future post).  Clearly, NYP sees this and is taking the necessary steps to assist their customers with better managing their health records in support of care continuity regardless of who ultimately provides that care.

Quick Note on HIPAA:

Amalga is installed within the firewall of NYP and thus this solution’s deployment at NYP clearly falls within the definition of “Business Associate” and is a covered entity in new HIPAA guidelines of ARRA legislative language.

HealthVault and its use as the technology foundation for MyNYP.org, however, (as the figure above shows) sits outside the firewall of NYP. This combined with the fact that a MyNYP.org acccount is completely controlled by the consumer, leads to an interpretation that Microsoft HealthVault does not fall under HIPAA compliance.

Impact to the HIT Market

Like many before them, Microsoft sees clearly one of the key findings of our 2008 iPHR Market Report; the direct Business to Consumer (B2C) model for PHRs is extremely difficult to make work (if not impossible) today.  Thus, they are now actively pursuing a Business to Business (B2B) model and are adding additional PHR functionality to the core HealthVault platform.

Microsoft is clearly looking to monetize all the resources it has put into HealthVault and is now going direct to market with a base PHR platform for the provider market.   This puts Microsoft in direct competiton with other provider-based PHR solutions, such as Epic’s MyChart.  Microsoft is likely to see success among providers with highly mixed IT environments.  (Note: in two conversations today at HIMSS, was told that the provider market has been particularly “hot” as of late for PHR vendors.  Seems as providers have “gotten religion” and are now looking to more deeply engage with their customers/patients.)

Microsoft may also begin looking at other markets.  Naturally, other PHR markets seem logical to attack, particularly the employer market thus coming into direct competition with WebMD. The RHIO/HIE market, however, is another market where the combination of Amalga and HV may create a compelling platform.

But Microsoft’s offering is far from complete.  A glaring hole is transactional processes.  One of the challenges that Microsoft faces is how to fold in those critical transactional processes, such as eVisits, online appointment scheduling, prescription refills, etc. into their solution.  Last year, Microsoft did announce a partnership with RelayHealth who certainly has the knowledge and capabilities to enable such functionality, but to date we have seen nothing materialize from that partnership.

Direct from NYP, ala the Microsoft PR folks, is the following video that interviews various NYP senior staff and executives as to why they put together MyNYP.org.   A little long, but well-worth the time.  This is the future direction of health – “the orchestration of care” which includes active participation of the consumer.  Congratulations NYP on this ground-breaking effort.

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