Aaron Blackledge M.D., founder of Care Practice clinic in San Francisco, sent me a link to a post he did back in April about a new EMR company called Carecloud. The irony of this is that Carecloud had just reached out to me for information about advertising their EMR on my sites since they are getting ready to launch their product. Their impending launch was why Aaron decided to share his post with me.
I think Dr. Blackledge’s post about Carecloud is summarized in his final paragraph:
My recommendation is if you are about to give up and lay down some hard earned cash on an EMR that is just good enough I would urge you to wait a few more months and compare CareCloud’s first iteration with other emerging platforms now gaining a foothold in the marketplace.
Since Carecloud is about to launch, you won’t have to wait a few months to check it out, but if you read the rest of the post, you see that Dr. Blackledge is high on Carecloud and its potential.
The hard thing for me is that I’ve seen this same EMR high from people over and over. You know the EMR employee (particularly the EMR sales people) “high.” (Although, Dr. Blackledge is not a Carecloud sales person and calls himself a “wayward disgruntled platform evangelist waiting for the future to arrive.”) The one where you can tell that the EMR employee has drunk the Kool-aid they’ve been fed by the company. They’ve likely not looked at many other competing systems and only know the stuff they’ve read in their email from the company highlighting how they’re better than everyone else in the industry.
This “high” is especially potent before a product is actually released. Why? Because it’s easy to get excited about an ideal and see the potential of the ideal. What’s much harder is when the customers start using your product and telling you what’s wrong and trust me that customers will find something wrong. No product is ever perfect.
This pre-product launch “high” is not unique to the EMR industry. It’s found throughout the tech industry (and likely many others). Funny thing is that Dr. Blackledge probably knows this pre-launch hype better than most doctors since he practices medicine in in the internet startup mecca: silicon valley. Ironically he traveled to an EMR company in Miami to find his EMR “high.”
Funny thing is that as I read Dr. Blackledge’s post on Carecloud, a number of comments he made popped out to me as potential red flags. Here are a few:
“First off, they have a really impressive group of people with ambitious plans for building something robust and elegant.”
How many big ambitious plans by companies have fallen apart? Many! I’m not saying that companies shouldn’t think big. I am saying that a group of impressive people with ambitious plans often leads to a momentous flop. At least the startup company numbers seem to spell this out.
“What I like most about CareCloud is that when asked about a timeline for release they will only say that they won’t release it until they get it right. They simply don’t know when it will be ready.”
Some might say that this sounds like a company that’s too afraid to release a product. That the company won’t ever find out what’s right until they launch the product and get customer feedback on what needs to be improved. I guess they don’t follow the release early and often approach to software development.
“Another thing I like is they are worried about not just becoming a very successful billing company, but they want to achieve much more by building something that really resonates with users and transforms the space.”
I applaud this ambition since I’ve been preaching that current EMR software are often just expensive billing machines for a long time. If they solve that problem I’ll be quite happy. Let’s just hope they didn’t forget the billing part though. Sadly, it’s still very important.
“I would guess CareCloud’s calm steady course is because they just don’t feel that anyone else is on the same path they are on so why hurry when you have time to get your vision done right.”
This is possible. Although, it’s also possible that they spent so much time waiting to release that it’s too late for them to capture the EHR market.
“If you hear an EMR company offer you 20 hours of free training with your purchase you can stop right there because any software that needs 20 hours of free onsite training forgot about the user long ago during the building and won’t be doing much in 5 years.”
Of course, in this comment it’s assumed that Carecloud’s focus on a great UI will limit the number of hours needed for EMR training. I love the irony of this being said right after he describes it as a “very complex and difficult to develop product.” I guess you could say it’s making a complex process simple is what’s so difficult. No doubt I agree that many EHR vendors over charge for their EHR training services. Problem with Carecloud is that we don’t know if they’ll charge, how much they’ll charge, and how many hours of training is needed since they haven’t launched.
“Even the office space at CareCloud is beautiful and reflects this attention to aesthetic and experience of the individual, in this case the employee experience.”
That’s one way to look at it. Another is that they overspent on office space and you’re going to pay for that overspending when you buy the software.
Ok, I won’t go through and nit pick the whole post. I think you get the basic idea. Dr. Blackledge describes Carecloud as the best thing since sliced bread. In this post, I’ve played devil’s advocate and described how maybe it’s an over funded, slow to release software company that’s trying to bite off more than it can chew. The reality is that Carecloud is probably somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.
The fact of the matter is that I really don’t have any clue if Carecloud is a good EMR system or not. They haven’t even launched their product, so I’m not sure that anyone knows. However, after creating this post, I have to admit that I’m excited to see it in action in a real doctor’s office. Plus, I think the founder, Albert Santalo, and Dr. Blackledge are going to be at a healthcare IT conference I’m hoping to go to in SF in a couple weeks. I’m looking forward to learning more and talking with them in person.
If nothing else, I love the audacity that it takes for someone to launch an EHR company now. I’ll be interested to see if their product is compelling enough to be “heard above all the EMR noise.”