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Telemedicine Not Connecting With EMRs

Posted on June 5, 2013 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.

As smartphones and tablets become a standard part of healthcare as we know it, telemedicine is gaining a new foothold in medicine too.  In some cases, we’re talking off the cuff transactions in which, say, a patient e-mails a photo to a doctor who can then diagnose and prescribe.  But telemedicine is also taking root on an institutional level, with health systems rolling out projects across the country.

The problem is, however, that these telemedicine projects simply don’t integrate with EMRs, according to an article in SearchHealthIT.  The piece’s writer, Don Fluckinger, recently attended American Telemedicine Association’s 2013 Annual International Meeting & Trade Show, where complaints were rife that EMRs and telemedicine don’t interoperate.

I really liked this summary of the situation one executive shared with Fluckinger:

For now, the executive (who asked not to be named) said, telemedicine providers need to keep away from the “blast radius” of EHR vendor conflicts, lest their budgets get consumed by building interfaces to the various non-interoperable EHR systems.

Not only are health systems struggling to integrate telemedicine data with EMRs, telemedicine providers are in a bit of a difficult spot too, Fluckinger notes. As an example, he tells the tale of Seattle-based Carena Inc., a provider of primary care services to patients via phone and video, which provides after-hours support to physicians at Franciscan Health System in Tacoma, Wash.

Carena itself has an EMR which has the ability to share searchable PDF documents for use in patient EMRs, but Franciscan’s seven hospitals are bringing up an Epic implementation which can’t support this trick.  Top execs at Franciscan want to connect Carena’s data to Epic, but that won’t happen right away.  So Franciscan may end up setting up Carena’s after-hours service within Franciscan’s Epic installation to work around the interoperability problem.

This is just one sample of the interoperability obstacles healthcare organizations are encountering when they set out to create a telemedicine service. As telemedicine explodes with the use of portable devices, I can only imagine that this will impose one more pressure on vendors to conquer compatibility problems. (But sadly, I doubt it will force any real changes in the near future.)

GymPact and Carena Inc. Receive Sizeable Fundings This Week

Posted on July 6, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Here is your weekly round-up of fundings around the health care technology world this week:

In a post from June 28th, John wrote about $34 million that was raised in Series C Funding round for Practice Fusion. This brought their grand total of funding up to $64 million.

If you are a reader of Smart Phone Health Care, you might be familiar with GymPact, a platform designed to motivate people to work out for a monetary incentive (or punishment). The company, which has recently changed its name from GymPact to Pact, Inc., announced it raised $850k in seed funding. This round of funding was led by Mike Hirshland of Resolute.vc. There were contributions from several different sources, including TEEC Angel Fund, the COO and co-founder of Harmonix, Mike Dornbrook and Alex Rigopolous, and CTO of Brightcove, Bob Mason.

The company changed its name to “better reflect the company’s mission to build an incentives program for a wide range of health behaviors, not just those taking place in a gym,” according to the companies founder, Yifan Zhang. Currently, GymPact has its users create a “pact” with a goal indicating how often they plan to work out at a gym that week. If the goal is met, they receive a share of money that week. However, if they don’t check-in to a gym the amount of times committed to for at least 30 minutes, a pre-determined amount is withdrawn from the users bank account. Since it was launched, over 250,000 workouts have been logged and $100K has been given to users.

The Seattle startup, Carena Inc., recently received $14 million in financing from different places, most notably from Catholic Health Initiatives. The company provides 24 hour a day health care by phone, webcam, or even by house call. The service is currently available in California and Washington State to around 500,000 people. This financing is hoped to help boost that number even higher.

The service is an add-on benefit for insurance programs, and physicians and nurses that are on staff provide medical advice and treatment. A “sophisticated software” has been developed by the company that helps the medical professional on-call diagnose and analyze the patient’s specific issues, and from there, make an informed decision on what the customer should do. Ralph Derrickson, CEO of Carena Inc., explained the thought behind the program:

When somebody calls in, it shouldn’t matter what provider they end up speaking to or how they really discuss that condition, it should result in the same decision. Internally, we’ve developed software and systems to make sure that we get the right treatment to the right person under the same circumstances, and as you can imagine since we are offered to people as a way to reduce cost, they want to make sure they understand under what circumstances and how and why our care is provided.

With the recent $14 million, funding for Carena Inc. is currently at $24 million.