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Taking the Anxiety out of Healthcare IT (and Cost of Care)

Posted on March 21, 2014 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

I’m prone to anxiety when it comes to unexplained aches and pains, though I tend to internalize it in an effort to not come across as a hypochondriac. I’m sure I let my inner, extreme worrier come through just a tad during a recent doctor’s appointment. I was visibly relieved to learn that what I had been quietly fretting about for weeks was in fact quite normal. My relief must have been extremely visible, because my doctor was quick to explain that what patients often consider irregular, doctors treat as run of the mill. What I lose sleep over, they don’t bat an eye at. (If only her practice offered a patient portal with secure email, so that we could correspond about my health at our leisure.)

She then told me of a recent trip to the doctor with her mother, and that she had a newfound appreciation for the patient’s side of the visit as she saw things from her mother’s point of view. It was quite refreshing to hear. I might temper my anxiety before my next appointment by playing this mobile game, should it ever be made available in the app store. According to a recent study published in Clinical Psychological Science, 25 minutes of play reduces levels of stress and anxiety. Researchers are looking to see if the effects are the same with shorter bursts of playtime. It’s got to be a cheaper (and healthier) alternative than a prescription for Xanax, right?

Speaking of healthcare costs, I read with interest the news that not only did Castlight Health’s IPO perform better than expected, but that it also partnering with the Leapfrog Group to analyze hospital survey data. Castlight seems poised for success because it is striving to do what healthcare desperately needs done – to bring transparency to and better understanding of healthcare costs in this country. With the Leapfrog project, it seems they are set on tackling quality, safety and patient satisfaction, too. It would be nice, as a patient, to have one trusted resource to go to for consumer-friendly healthcare information so that we could make smart decisions for our families and ourselves.

It would be interesting for a company like Castlight to combine financial, quality, safety and satisfaction data with a notation as to whether hospitals and physicians use EHRs. I noticed that recent results from the latest NCHS Data Brief from CDC show that 42.8% of physicians in Georgia have EHRs – not significantly different than the national average, according to NCHS survey findings. Only nine states ranked above the national average for EHR usage.

I’m off on a tangent here, but I have to ask, when will all 50 states get above 50%? When will everyone be above the national average? With budgets tightening, hospitals closing, and IT deadlines looming, I have a feeling it will be later rather than sooner – if at all.

What do you think? When will your state reach 100%? How do you relieve stress before a doctor’s visit? Would knowing a physician had competitive prices and secure messaging impact your decision to book an appointment? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Greenway Medical (GWAY) IPO Suggests Big Opportunities For EMR Vendors

Posted on February 2, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

While there’s a number of  large, publicly-traded EMR vendors out there — General Electric (NASDAQ: GE) and Cerner (NASDAQ: CERN) immediately come to mind — to date we haven’t seen many mid-sized or small companies kick off an initial public offering. But one medium-sized EMR/practice management vendor has broken the mold.

Today, Greenway Medical Technologies (NASDAQ: GWAY) took the plunge , pulling in $67 million to fund its operations. While the company had hoped to raise $100 million, its take is nothing to sneeze at. Health IT is a tricky investment, even for pros like yourselves, readers, and institutional investors in particular are a conservative bunch. The fact that they’re spending on a risky business means a lot.

Greenway, whose EMR is bundled with practice management software, had one heck of a ride today, with its stock climbing 30 percent during its first day of trading. The company sold 6.7 million shares at prices below its expected $11 to $13 range, diluting its intake somewhat, but the stock closed at a promising $13 per share.

The Carrollton, Ga.-based vendor has certainly done well in recent times. According to insider Wall Street blog Seeking Alpha, Greenway revenues shot up 55 percent, to $25.7 million, during the last quarter of operations. Operating margins went from negative to a positive 2 percent, which is at least a start.  Its biggest cash generator during the quarter was licensing revenue, which climbed 49 percent.

What’s interesting about this IPO isn’t just the fact that it ended well for Greenway. After all, it did take in less than planned, and the Wall Street crowd justifiably wonders how it will fare in a mind-boggling competitive market.  But it’s worth asking whether Greenway did better because it bundles both an EMR and practice management tools. Did the fact that Greenway wasn’t relying solely on EMR revenue contribute to its growth and financial success?  It would be interesting to find out, as that might help predict whether the bundled model is especially popular with physicians.

As for those who’d seek to imitate Greenway, they may have a chance if they move soon. Seeking Alpha editors think HITECH will still pump enough money into the EMR market to make these companies a reasonable investment. And given how many doctors and hospitals are still struggling to put EMRs in place, I have to agree.  In fact, given that an amazing number of hospitals and medical practices junk their first EMR, there may be a whole second wave of opportunity within three to five years.

All told, if the market’s response to a smallish IPO is any indication, you can expect a bunch of other EMR players to follow in its footsteps.  I’m thinking it will be companies in the $100m to $200m range, as they’re small enough to need capital (much cheaper capital than banks offer these days!) and nimble enough to benefit from the cash influx. Stay tuned and in coming months, I’ll tell you which other EMR and HIT companies I’m betting will climb onto the launch pad.