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Practice Fusion EMR Brings Patients Into The Picture

Posted on April 22, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

Practice Fusion was one of the first free, advertising supported, cloud-based EMR to enter the market and has likely been the loudest proponent of free EMR software. Although, they have some interesting Free EMR competitors like Mitochon and Kareo. Since 2007, Practice Fusion has focused on offering unfettered access to its product in exchange for physicians being willing to accept advertisements relevant to the health records they’re using and the aggregate use of the EHR data.

The company, which has raked in venture capital in buckets since its founding, now says it has 150,000 healthcare providers using its EMR and records on 60 million patients, according to a piece in The New York Times.

Now, the company has taken another step in its free-for-all model with a new service it calls Patient Fusion. Patient Fusion is a new service which allows patients using the system to schedule appointments with any participating doctor who uses the EMR. It also allows patients to rate the doctors in question and to access their records with permission. So far, 27,000 of Practice Fusion’s EMR users have signed up for the service, the Times reports.

The Times columnist covering this announcement speculates that Practice Fusion has launched its new product as a means of building up patient traffic, but I don’t see how that would work. Patients may see more of their records, but this won’t necessarily do anything to increase the number of doctor-based views the network can sell to lab companies and pharmas.

On the other hand, Patient Fusion could prove to be a powerful way of attracting and keeping doctors who want to offer easy-to-administer appointment scheduling to patients. Also, getting patients engaged with their medical records is very much in the spirit of Meaningful Use and the ONC’s priorities generally, so this new patient feature could be a beacon for doctors going through MU-motivated EMR switching this year.

Bottom line, this seems like a nifty idea. I predict that most of Practice Fusion’s EMR customers will sign up over the next year or so.

The Many Ways That your Smartphone Could Save Your Life

Posted on May 16, 2011 I Written By

There was a really interesting article in The New York Times a couple weeks ago that does a really great job of describing the different categories of healthcare, and specifically how your smartphone can help improve your health in those areas.  The full article can be found here, but the main points can be found below.

Wellness

The first wave of mHealth (mobile health) apps are in areas like fitness, nutrition and general wellbeing which fall under the umbrella of “wellness”. Since the majority of contributing factors to diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer are lifestyle-related and therefore modifiable, these apps can be important preventative tools.

Chronic diseases

75-85 percent of healthcare spend goes on chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. The Continua health alliance reports that remote monitoring can reduce mortality by 35-56 percent and hospitalization by up to 47 percent.

The elderly

In our youth-obsessed world, nobody likes to think about getting old and frail. But it happens to us all (if we are lucky) and we would all like to stay active and independent for as long as possible. Independa combines sensors, tablets and mobile technology to allow family caregivers to monitor the well-being of their elderly relatives when they can’t be physically present and gives the elderly easy access to services they need.

Obstacles

The technology required for the Mhealth revolution are mostly in place but there are other obstacles. Awareness of Mhealth apps is low among patients and medical professionals. Research from Accenture showed that among members of Generation X who had a chronic condition, only 9 percent were aware of Mhealth applications and a mere 3 percent owned one.

Mhealth is also a business in search of a business model.

The article goes much more in depth with each section talking about specific apps that can be used to improve your health, but I found these points most interesting.  The last section is where I found the most insight.

It is crazy to me that so many people are not aware of these apps and what they can do.  Maybe that comes from a perception that apps are about games and niche markets, but I was truly surprised that the numbers they gave were so low.

I also think the business model point was extremely interesting.  mHealth is combining the health world with the technology world, but in a way that has never really been done before because it is being given directly to the masses.  These apps are not something that are being restricted by doctors or hospitals but at the same time there needs to be some oversight when you get into the ones dealing with major illnesses.

It will be extremely interesting to see how companies overcome these hurdles because I have no doubt someone will and then everyone else will follow suit to try and be equally successful.