Tag: telehealth

Health IT Thought Leader Highlight: Girish Navani, CEO, eClinicalWorks

Girish Navani
Girish Navani

Girish Navani is CEO and co-founder of eClinicalWorks, an electronic health record company exceeding in the B2B field since 1999. Under the leadership and foresight of Navani, the company is expanding its services to B2C with the launch of healow – an app for patients to easily find new doctors, schedule appointments online and access their personal health records.

Here, Navani speaks about his path to eClinicalWorks, he offers his expert insight on EHRs and their benefits to healthcare, and he speak of likely trends that will continue to change the healthcare landscape.

Tell me your story. About how you got here, how you developed your technology and the reasoning for a private company set up?

We wanted to use technology as a way to completely transform the healthcare delivery model to streamline processes, prevent errors and provide easily accessible information to both providers and patients. Not only was our primary goal to make doctors’ jobs easier by providing them with a way to operate more efficiently, but we also wanted to improve the patient experience.

I’m a strong believer in keeping my company private and concentrating on building a solid product. Selling shares and depending on investors means that they will always have a say in how we conduct our business. We use our profits to continue building our company and our products.

What about the leadership inside the company? Is it true the no employees have titles? What’s the reasoning?

I have an open-door policy, which allows the opportunity for anybody to approach me to ask questions and brainstorm ideas. Over time, I’ve learned to listen more. I’m okay with second guessing my own decisions and receiving feedback from my colleagues, even if what they say is “no.”

Yes, our employees do not have titles, but instead, the whole company is team-based with team leaders being the only leadership position. Employees’ careers grow with bigger projects. I think titles are self-fulfilling and short-term objectives that people quickly get tired of. With a team-based structure, employees can work together to achieve successful results instead of individuals striving for the next title.

What drew you to healthcare? Why does it stand out for you?

I have always worked in technology, and in 1999, I heard a lecture in Geneva about using wireless computing in healthcare and the idea of “connected healthcare” really stuck with me. I loved the idea of a doctor and patient sitting in the doctor’s office reviewing charts on a tablet instead of pieces of paper, so I wanted to build a technology that connects all parties involved in healthcare, including the doctor, patient and insurance company.

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What Healthcare Changes Lie Ahead: Wearables and Consumerization

Bill Balderaz

Prior to launching Webbed Marketing (the previous name of Fathom Columbus), founder Bill Balderaz worked with some of the largest publishers in the world to plan, execute and measure Internet marketing programs. He began working on search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising and link-building in 1998, prior to the launch of Google. He has spoken on Internet marketing topics at events sponsored by the Public Relations Society of America, the American Marketing Association and the National Fuel Funds Network. Bill holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations journalism from Bowling Green State University and an MBA from Franklin University.

Here, he discusses health IT trends, the future of wearables as he sees them and the consumerization of healthcare.

What are the biggest changes we will see in 2015 in terms of healthcare technology?

Hospitals and health systems across the country will be adopting or upgrading EHRs, telehealth capabilities, and mobile tools. Look for increased reliance on and more sophisticated use of data analytics, as well as individualized medicine, ‘doctor-less’ patient models, and quantification of population health via social media.  Patients will take more control of their health.

Also look for integration. Patients have so many inputs: lab results, wearable data, fitness plans. Then they have outputs, newsletters, emails, patient portals. The smart money is on the technology to connect and simplify.

What is driving these changes?

At the consumer level, where patients are more informed and involved than ever, what some call the ‘democratized future’ of healthcare is bringing more accountability and transparency to both the methods and costs of care. The parallel needs to cut skyrocketing costs, increase access to care, improve quality of service, and encourage patient engagement are all factors contributing to the growing potential of health IT to transform the delivery and experience of healthcare at fundamental levels.

You work with healthcare systems across the country in a variety of markets. What trends are common to all hospitals and healthcare systems? What differences do you see?

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Health IT Startup: eVisit

Bret Larsen

eVisit is the telemedicine software platform for physician’s offices. Its cloud-based SaaS application allows physicians, PAs and NPs to evaluate and treat their existing patient population remotely, via webcam interaction. Unlike competitors, eVisit is the only platform for providers, designed to allow telemedicine reimbursement from third party payers. eVisit can increase patient flow up to 300 percent; and can decrease “no shows” by 80 percent, allowing a practice to recover up to $120,000 a year.

Elevator pitch

eVisit is telehealth software that enables providers to increase patient flow and revenue, while providing convenience to their patients with online treatment.

Leadership team

Bret Larsen, Co-Founder, CEO. Glen McCracken, MD, Co-founder, president.

Marketing/promotion strategy

We are actively marketing through strategic channel partnerships and product integrations.

Market opportunity

The Primary Care Market generates $135B/year in revenue with a CAGR of 2.6 percent. It employs 745,642 (246,090 physicians) over 130,526 medical practices; 90 percent of primary care physicians operate in SMB medical practices, our target segment (IBISWorld). This segment represents a $9.99B/year addressable market (221,481 buyers x $1,200) + ($121.5B  x 8 percent billing fee).

How your company differentiates itself from the competition 

Competitors offerings include B2B models with value propositions of lowering costs, B2C models offering convenience or enterprise hardware and software (none offer physicians ability to bill a patient’s insurance, the doctor-patient relationship is non-existent and patients are being asked to pay more).

Business model

Healthcare practice sign up on a subscription that is charged on a per user, per month fee of $99.

Current needs

We are currently raising our seed round of investment ($1M) and actively looking to hire talented developers.

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Telehealth: Mining the Vault

Guest post by Jack Plotkin, CTO, Virtual Health.

As a concept, telehealth has always impressed physicians with its potential. The ability to capture time-critical health information regardless of a patient’s location empowers a level of preventive care and early diagnosis never before possible. A physician can only observe the symptoms exhibited by a patient during a visit, but what of the symptoms exhibited in the course of the hours, days, weeks and months between visits? Each day, patients are subject to changes in their health as a result of lifestyle choices, treatment compliance decisions and physiological processes. Telehealth makes it possible to continually monitor these changes and take immediate remediation measures rather than waiting until the disease has progressed to a point of no return.

The advent of wireless devices that may be unobtrusively worn or placed in the home to track everything from pulse rate to frequency of night-time bathroom usage has made the real-time collection of a broad range of biometric data a reality. Moreover, the cost of such devices has dropped significantly over the past several years while their convenience and capabilities have grown. Despite this progress, the healthcare industry has yet to fully adopt telehealth or realize its enormous potential.

Some point to the lack of reimbursement as the culprit. Although device costs may have dropped, the overall expense of initiating and maintaining a telehealth program, including the associated device, data, personnel and training costs, is significant. However, two trends are chipping away at the economic side of the equation. First, state Medicaid programs are continually increasing the scope of reimbursement for tele-visits and remote monitoring, and both Medicare and private insurers have also started to move in the same direction. Second, the shift from fee-for-service to capitation models are providing compelling financial incentives for managed care organizations to fund telehealth programs.

Arguably a more critical obstacle to the mainstream adoption of telehealth is the challenge of data integration. Telehealth systems have developed along a separate track from electronic medical record systems. As a result, the telehealth data resides in a separate, landlocked silo from the patient’s medical history. Thus, even though data is being captured regarding the patient between physician visits, the physician still only sees and records the data accessible during the visit. At the same time, the telehealth program nurse is only seeing the biometric data without the context of the patient’s overall health profile that is accessible to the physician. With the data in landlocked silos, different members of the patient’s care team are unable to see the entire picture or effectively collaborate.

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The Push to Telehealth Is On

Scott Zimmerman
Scott Zimmerman

Guest post by Scott Zimmerman, president, TeleVox.

If you caught Maria Bartiromo’s interview with ex-Apple CEO John Sculley in late December, you would have heard him say this to the Fox Business Network’s Global Markets Editor:

“Telehealth is going to be a booming industry.”

Why? Sculley pointed to consumers’ taking on more responsibility for their own healthcare, the result of a new awakening to its high costs. He sees this as a derivative effect of Obamacare, as patients confront greater out-of-pocket payments in the face of higher deductibles.

Sculley went on to compare his expectations for the success that he expects telehealth to experience to the success that ATMs and online banking have seen in the last 20 years: “People said, ‘I wonder if it will be successful. We all know it was. The same thing is going to happen in telehealth.”

The renowned tech titan is very much onto something here. Consumers – especially those with chronic conditions who grapple with the challenges of adhering to prescribed treatment plans – will want more efficient and lower-cost ways to more regularly engage with their healthcare providers as part of a continuous-care model. But there’s so much more that is influencing the move by medical professionals to complement in-office visits with remote patient engagement strategies and communications solutions.

One important reason is that healthcare providers and institutions have financial incentives for more aggressively managing patient cases. In the age of accountable care, hospitals want physicians who have ties to their healthcare systems to boost patient communications for care coordination, to help them steer clear of penalties for avoidable readmissions. The focus on rewarding quality of care delivered, rather than quantity of services provided, also increases the importance of doctors’ keeping closer tabs on how their patients are doing in between office visits.

It’s always better that physicians know as soon as possible if their patients are having problems complying with care instructions or experiencing other complications, but especially so under these new scenarios. By the time the next office visit rolls around, things may have worsened to a considerable extent, potentially leading to more tests, additional medications, or even the need for hospitalization – all of which can take its toll on meeting accountable care standards.

Progress Is Underway

Of course, it’s simply not possible for healthcare professionals to regularly call each patient who is suffering from a serious condition to see how he or she is doing between appointments.

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Report: Health IT Sees Nearly $1 Billion in VC Funding in Q3 2014

Mercom Capital Group, a global communications and consulting firm, releases a new report depicting VC funding and mergers and acquisitions activity in the healthcare IT third quarter 2014. According to the report, venture capital funding in the sector came to $956 million raised in 212 deals globally, a decline of 46 percent in terms of dollars compared to the massive $1.8 billion in 161 deals raised in Q2 2014, a rare quarter. Q3 2014 was still the second highest quarter for VC funding since 2010, though, and total VC funding year-to-date is $3.6 billion.

The quarter was dominated by more than 100 funding deals of less than $2 million. There were 252 investors that participated in the quarter including angels, VCs, private equity and corporate VCs. The quarter also included 12 accelerators/incubators.

 

“Healthcare IT saw another big fundraising quarter in Q3 with almost $1 billion raised. Companies from countries outside of the United States, accounted for a record 21 percent share of the funding. While consumer-centric companies attracted the majority of the funding this quarter, M&A has been a different story with the majority of the deals involving practice-focused companies,” said Raj Prabhu, CEO and co-founder of Mercom Capital Group.

Consumer-focused technologies received 65 percent of all VC investments, with $623 million in 140 deals compared to $678 million in 100 deals in Q2 2014. Areas that received the most funding under this category were mobile health with $345 million in 82 deals followed by telehealth, which had its best quarter, with $101 million in 16 deals; personal health with $85 million in 24 deals; social with $70 million in three deals; and scheduling, rating and shopping with $23 million in 15 deals.

Practice-centric companies received $333 million in 72 deals in the third quarter of 2014, compared to $1.1 billion in 61 deals in Q2. Under this category, the areas that received the most funding were revenue cycle management with $75 million in eight deals, and data analytics with $71 million in 19 deals.

The top five VC funding deals in Q3 2014 were the $70 million raise by DXY (Ting Ting Group), an online healthcare community for medical institutions and healthcare providers in China, from Tencent Holdings Limited, a provider of comprehensive internet services in China, followed by the $52 million raise by Proteus Digital Health, a developer of products and services integrating medicines with ingestible sensors, wearable sensors, mobile and cloud computing.

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As Payers Adopt Coordinated Care Model, Results Suggest Everyone Wins

Dr. Cliff Bleustein
Dr. Cliff Bleustein

Guest post by Cliff Bleustein, M.D., M.B.A., chief medical officer, Dell Services.

For decades, reimbursement for the time spent coordinating care and keeping people healthy has been mostly non-existent. But the tide is turning, as government and private payers see that coordinated care and the time spent keeping people healthy can lower the amount of money they spend treating illness.

Primary care physicians are even seeing higher reimbursements in some areas. For example, beginning in 2011, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the largest insurer in the Washington, D.C., area, substantially raised reimbursement rates for general internists and family practitioners who adopted the medical home model, which emphasizes care coordination. They also rewarded them with significant bonuses if they met quality standards and reduced costs. They also provided the physicians with round-the-clock nursing assistance to help with their sickest and riskiest patients.

CareFirst CEO Chet Burrell said in news reports that the program is saving “hundreds of millions of dollars in accumulated, avoided costs.”

Government payers are also reaping benefits from coordinated care, including Medicaid, Medicare and the Veteran’s Administration.

That’s good news for everyone. Coordinated care requires an upfront-investment in people and technology that is often beyond the resources of a primary care practice, but it is far less expensive than the business-as-usual, uncoordinated care that has seen costs rise at double the rate of inflation for most of the past two decades. If public and private health plans make that upfront investment, paying for the time and the needed resources, they can reap the financial benefits while patients reap the benefit of better health.

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Top 10 Tech Trends Every Hospital and Healthcare Professional Should Know About

Bill Balderaz
Bill Balderaz

Guest post by Bill Balderaz, president, Fathom Healthcare.

What’s next?

No matter what the discussion is or who you are talking with, this often seems to be the big question. It’s not enough to say “what;” what matters is, “What’s Next?”

Healthcare: This area is the largest, fastest growing and perhaps the fastest changing element of our economy and lives. As a result, just about every conversation we have about healthcare involves a “What’s next?” discussion.

At Fathom, we have the privilege of spending a lot of time exploring what’s next in healthcare marketing and communications. Based on our conversations, observations and research, here is a list of the top 10 tech trends every hospital and healthcare professional should know about.

Predictive analytics. Real time isn’t fast enough. Predictive analytics—or the systematic use of data to predict patient behavior—will usher a big shift in the quality of care. By analyzing hospital data, social media conversations and search patterns, hospitals can predict patient behavior and needs. Hospitals can predict and be ready for flu outbreaks. By analyzing historical admissions data, weather patterns and census data, hospitals can predict emergency room volume and staff for it. Healthcare systems can even look ahead 10 or 20 years and predict the need for cancer care or assisted-living facilities with population data.

Wearables. Wearable devices can monitor blood pressure, heart rate, insulin levels and more. Forget the simple devices we use today: The next generation of wearables will elevate health monitoring to the next level. All this information can also be shared in real time with a healthcare provider, making it part of a larger trend: Partnership between patients and providers.

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Alere Connect: Mobile Devices Connecting Healthcare

Kent Dicks

Guest post by Kent Dicks, CEO, Alere Connect.

Mobile devices are completely ingrained in the fabric of our daily lives – from personal use to business – throughout the world.

The healthcare industry, usually resistant to the whims of technology trends, has been a fast and significant adopter of mobile devices. Apple’s introduction of the iPad appears to have been a watershed that brought healthcare IT into the 21st century. Besides improved efficiency in communication and administrative functions, clinicians found the devices much more practical to incorporate to patient interactions – from consultation to education. Now mobile devices have become almost indispensable in the daily care of patients. Physicians use smart phones and tablets wherever they review patient records, receive updates or alerts by secure text messaging and coordinate care among other clinicians. Care professionals are connected to health information like never before.

Telehealth has “connected” patients and physicians for decades in an attempt to deliver proactive healthcare, but mobile devices and cloud-based technologies are making remote healthcare more practical. Still, we are just scratching the surface as to what a “connected healthcare system” can look like. Despite strides, we still need to tie it all together: patients, physicians, devices, data, analytics, decision support, monitoring services and education – to achieve the best outcomes for our patients.

A connected patient is more compliant with a better chance to attain better outcomes. A connected provider has access to better information to make better decisions. The common goal is to keep the patient out of the hospital, lower costs, reduce the strain on an already strained healthcare system and provide better outcomes. How we implement the goal of a connected healthcare system is the challenge.

In assessing how to best utilize mobile technology with patients and providers, my belief is that one solution doesn’t fit all. We must align the right technology with the right patients. Smart phones and tablets with complex apps and expensive data plans may be common in demographic groups that may skew younger, or those with higher technical literacy and dexterity and more disposable income. Simpler technology using month-to-month or prepaid service plans may better suit seniors and those with limited and fixed incomes. Meaningful change will come faster by focusing on the 15 percent of the population that consumes 80 percent of healthcare costs. This segment traditionally includes the elderly and indigent, Medicare/Medicaid population. This group doesn’t overwhelmingly consume the “latest and greatest” devices with the hottest apps and seamless connectivity – 4G, Bluetooth, WiFi and syncing to the cloud is not reality. We must be realistic when we propose solutions to address something as important as the delivery of patient care, providing the right technology to meet the needs of the people using it. Acquiring the right data, at the right time, and right cost, to achieve the right (better) outcome for the patient.

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Telehealth: Overcoming the Obstacles and Pursuing the Opportunities

Bill Ferra
Bill Ferra

Guest post by Bill Fera, principal, Ernst & Young LLP.

Healthcare reform, the newly insured and a growing interest in population health management are accelerating the market’s interest in telehealth technologies and services. Healthcare providers are developing integrated strategies for adopting these technologies with the goal of extending capabilities and patient interactions beyond traditional care settings. As more payers and employers begin to pay for telehealth services, the value of these tools is coming into focus. Market analyst IHS predicts the US telehealth market will grow from $240 million in revenue in 2013 to $1.9 billion in 2018, an annual growth rate of more than 50 percent, according to Forbes. Keys to the anticipated surge are the current physician shortage, an expanded patient base under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and an effort to put consumers at the center of their own care.

Overcoming the obstacles

Historically, the healthcare industry has proceeded carefully in the world of digital advancements. High investment costs and uncertain return on investment have created a tenuous economic model. Healthcare providers also face three other key obstacles: uncertain reimbursement, varied state licensing laws and the potential for breaches in privacy and security.

Navigating reimbursement challenges

Reimbursement for telehealth services varies widely. Medicare pays for some services, especially in remote rural areas, but the program has several restrictions. It generally covers only services delivered “real time,” through videoconferencing, as opposed to “anytime,” through store-and-forward technologies.

Medicaid is the most common route states are taking to implement their telehealth programs.  The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) notes that to date, 43 states and the District of Columbia provide some form of Medicaid reimbursement for telehealth services.

Private payers need to comply with state regulations. Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia require private insurance plans in the state to cover telehealth services, according to the NCSL. Arizona will join this list in January 2015. Nontraditional payers for telehealth services range from charitable organizations, long-term care and community health providers to self-insured groups and agencies serving special populations.

Policies continue to evolve. Several bills are before Congress to establish a federal standard for telehealth, while Medicare’s 2014 physician fee schedule will expand coverage incrementally for telehealth services.

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