Integrating inexpensive lab testing, imaging to EHR–and vice versa

In the Dr Eric Topol patient-driven world, personal lab testing would be walk in, keep retail hours and not even need a doctor’s order. That is the model for Theranos, a well-funded low cost blood testing company operating 43 centers in California, Arizona (no doctor order needed) and one Pennsylvania Walgreens. Their latest alliance is with EHR physician practice giant Practice Fusion, which claims about 112,000 doctors actively using its cloud-based, ad supported platform, claims to be the fastest growing US EHR with at present 100 million patient records. The Theranos reporting app, which also connects patients with doctors who can help interpret the results (MD Connect) integrates with other EHRs (though not listed) and now the results will also show in their Practice Fusion patient record. Practice Fusion is also integrating imaging center RadNet‘s results.

Since the late 2000s, Practice Fusion has historically been the game changer in cost (one of the first in the cloud) and in catering to smaller practices. They are good at managing their hype, but as Neil Versel points out, there’s been a CEO ‘change-lobsters-and-dance’, there are questions about revenue and their awaited IPO seems far away, especially given the recent market upset. Hospital EHRs Cerner, Epic and NextGen now all have lower-cost practice versions that integrate with hospital versions. An American College of Physicians (ACP) 2014 survey identified that Practice Fusion is third (and tied with others) among most used practice EHRs behind Epic and eClinical Works, though strongest in solo practices. On the polar opposite of Mr Versel’s skeptical article is this breathless Forbes piece which confuses partnerships with acquisitions. Perhaps self-made billionaire Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes may decide to buy Practice Fusion!

A Gimlety look at fitness trackers and startup bloviation

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]It must be summer and The Gimlet Eye is looking for amusement and diversion. In a Real World of shotdown passenger aircraft and Middle East war, even Neil Versel in Meaningful HIT News is opting for the lighter side. He draws our attention to the humor of Steven Colbert on the subject “The Golden Era of Digital Toys”. Instead of actually running a marathon, simulate it with your Fitbit by mounting it to a paint shaker. But beyond these yuks, Mr Colbert aptly points to the vaporous language used by every DH3-er (Digital Health Hypester Horde) to promote their ‘revolutionary’ device.

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]Case in point: Vessyl, a cup that reads out what you are drinking down to the brand, flavor and calorie count and tosses the information to an app on your smartphone. (Of course, you could read the container, but that would be soooo uncool.) Colbert uses Vessyl to skewer Healthcare Startup Bloviation. There’s the Founder with red oblong glasses on ‘tracking real time hydration’. Then another principal, of whom The Gimlet Eye notes must be so dedicated that has no time to shave, tweeze his eyebrows, comb his hair or put on a clean shirt for the promo video, uttering their mission statement like Moses Bringing Down The Tablets from Sinai: ‘we help people make healthier and more informed decisions in real time.’ The final reductio ad absurdum is the creative director whispering in awe on its seven years of intensive design work. For a drink cup. Retail $200 if it meets its early 2015 ship date. Raising $50,000 via MarkOne’s oh-so-hip ‘n’ cool glossy demo website. With the requisite hipsters (none over 25) livin’ large in San Francisco’s glam settings, of course clutching their Vessyl.

This is what gets funded? As in the proverb, has the mountain labored to bring forth a mouse? Mr Colbert’s device in counterpoint is brilliant. It should be funded shortly. Colbert Video.

Additional breathless D3H coverage: VentureBeat. CNet traces its ties to the Jawbone UP designer. (Editor Donna note: the cup readout on brands and accuracy re sugar and caffeine does sound a bit too good to be true. Let’s see if it’s for real in 2015.)

Rock Health opens new HQ to wonder, sums up 2013

[grow_thumb image=”©BruceDamonte_02.jpg” thumb_width=”175″ /]As seems to be the way in the West Coast Digital Health scene, the opening of accelerator/funder Rock Health’s new HQ in the Mission Bay district of San Francisco gained more heavy-breathing hype than its mostly positive 2013 digital health investment report. The soireé during last week’s JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, glowingly reported in Xconomy with plenty of pics of the achingly trendy interior design and Health Digerati/D3Hers (Digital Health Hypester/Hipster Horde) at play also was a demo of a different type–how insular interests interlock and circle in Fog City. Star guest San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee spearheaded the remaking of the district into a life sciences/tech center; the Xconomy-moderated panel discussion paired him with Rock Health founder/CEO Halle Tecco and Alexandria Real Estate CEO Joel Marcus;  Alexandria underwrites Xconomy and has a huge investment in life sciences real estate; the new Rock Health HQ is on the ground floor of an Alexandria-owned building. Of course Mission Bay is now hyped as the ‘US Digital Health Hub’ for all those Rock Health-accelerated, funded startups. It does give one pause: how much of this is substance, or is it the peak of style before tipping into The Trough of Disillusionment? The tartest takedown on this is courtesy of Neil Versel’s Meaningful HIT News column. Pointed pokes abound: at Silicon Valley for its health tech failures (Google Health among them), the odd duplications (Google-funded telemedicine provider Doctor On Demand sounds like American Well, Ameridoc, etc.) and the even odder lack of considering integration with payer/provider systems and workflows.  Keep wasting your money, Silicon Valley venture capitalists (Note to Neil: the circular swings seem to be a feature of Alexandria’s properties–they’re present at Alexandria Center NYC too. Image © Bruce Damonte/Studios Architecture)

With that aside, the highlights of the Rock Health Digital Health Funding Year In Review were generally positive, but some of them, looked at critically, weren’t, even when depicted in attractive charts and graphs: (more…)

Engaging patients from the top down

Neil Versel’s first major national magazine story just appeared in US News & World Report on the always engaging topic of…patient engagement. He explains to a general audience how healthcare reform might not change individuals’ behavior right away, but surely it is changing providers’ behaviors in relating to and engaging their patients. It covers EHRs, PHRs, online communications, aging in place, social networking and even doctors speaking with patients in understandable language. Well, Neil certainly does get it….it’s a clear article which we hope will be one of many written by Neil for a general audience. He is also speaking Tuesday at ATA’s Fall Forum in Toronto. Helping Patients Stay Engaged in their Own Care

Engaging patients (sideways?) is a new partnership announced by Bosch Healthcare and New York-based Remedy Health Media to add web-based solutions to its current health management programs delivered through their Health Buddy and T400 devices. The release and coverage (Mass Device, mHealth News)  implies that monitoring will part of the patient engagement with “a suite of innovative web-based products for remote patient monitoring” available later this year. Does it mean that the hubs are on their way to the scrapheap? Hat tip to reader Bob Pyke.