Give me some background about yourself and the company.
I started in healthcare IT back in 1989 with a startup company named Enterprise Systems out of Bannockburn, Illinois. They were focused on hospital-based systems. Their CEO at the time had this vision that PCs and networks were going to be the future, so we needed to migrate everything off of the mainframe into this client-server environment. I started as a developer there and have been focused on healthcare IT pretty well my entire career.
I did a short stint in the financial space for the Options Clearing Corporation, which was a very unique opportunity to do some work for them. But really, my heartstrings were back in healthcare. I left the OCC and joined Allscripts just as they were starting. I spent about six and a half years with Allscripts as their CIO.
I left there for family reasons and moved to Central Illinois. I got a call from one of the Allscripts’ customers, Springfield Clinic, to ask me to come help them implement their EMR. I decided to do a short-term stint with them to help them do their EMR implementation, which was very successful throughout all of their locations.
At that point in time, I was getting the itch to get back into the vendor side of the world. I decided to start a new company, which was Jardogs. I started that a little bit over three years ago. The clinic had come back and asked me to stay on with them as their CIO and have the clinic incubate Jardogs for us. That brings us to current state. I’m still CIO of Springfield Clinic and I’m also CEO of Jardogs.
Jardogs was founded on my vision that as you look at healthcare as a whole, healthcare IT really started in automation of those back-end systems within the hospital. Over the years, we’ve evolved to be ambulatory focused, where the dawn of the EMRs have come about. As I was looking at that trend as well as where we are nationally in a healthcare state, I truly believed that the next big thing and focus was around patient engagement.
That was the basic premise of starting Jardogs three years ago — to look at the evolution of how to engage the patient as part of this whole healthcare system and how we can add value both to the patient as well as those connected organizations.
Tell me about the name. I don’t think I’ve ever heard where it came from.
It’s a closely-kept secret. It is an acronym, but the mystique is much better than what the actual name means.
We went through a very long and tedious process. It’s almost impossible to find a unique name that isn’t already taken from a domain name standpoint, so we had run a contest three years ago. We asked a bunch of people to submit different names and ideas and then we brought that to our board. Jardogs won without anyone knowing what it actually meant. It won because it stuck out in everyone’s mind. After the name was selected, that’s where the logo and the branding and that fun component of the company came into play.
It’s hard for me to get a grasp of exactly what you do. Is it population health? Is it interoperability? Can you characterize all the things that are out there circling around in your ecosystem and where you fit?
It’s a great question. Honestly, we have hard time putting ourselves into a specific niche because we are a very unique offering into the industry.
The primary system is our FollowMyHealth, which we call a Universal Health Record, which is different from a patient portal or a personal health record. It’s a combination of a multitude of different systems. At its core is that it is a national personal health record, but it has all the attributes of a connected patient portal.
When I was sitting back and looking at personal health records and that concept, it’s very important to our nation that we have central repositories for patients to manage their healthcare. But the downside is if you look at HealthVault, or Google Health at the time, those products did not really add any value to the patient. They were very difficult to manage because they weren’t connected to their healthcare providers. You had to go in and manually update all of your information. I go see the doctor, then I have to go home and remember to key in all that information.
That’s what’s so great about what they call a tethered patient portal. The patient portal is directly connected to the organization or your provider. The downside with that is it’s not national, and it doesn’t share information with everybody else.
The concept was to come up with a national or local community-based portal where all of your information could be aggregated and managed by that patient. To do that was very complex, because it was really building parts of an HIE, building a tethered patient portal with all the integration into a multitude of different EMR vendors, as well as creating a national infrastructure to share that data like a personal health record. It’s a culmination of all of those things together which creates the Universal Heath Record.
That would be different from something like Epic’s MyChart in that you’re not vendor specific. Is it otherwise similar?
That’s exactly right. Epic is trying to do some things with trying to share that record outside of their organization, but they haven’t built the framework to translate all of their data into a common nomenclature and then allow that to easily flow with patient consent to all other healthcare organizations.
There are some differences. The reason that Epic is at that national level is because they are widespread throughout the United States. We do have customers that are on Epic that actually use the FollowMyHealth system to aggregate data and provide that inside their own entity.
Who buys your product and how do they roll it out?
Our customers are clinics and hospitals throughout the US. The providers or those hospitals will buy a license. They get a customized website. They have all the attributes of a tethered portal — their own branding, their own information — but then that entire system is connected into the national FollowMyHealth infrastructure across the board. It’s free to the patient.
If a hospital has its own practices or affiliated practices, they can connect those electronic medical record systems, whatever they are, to integrate with the product?
There are really two different scenarios. The first scenario is that I’m a large IDN, and I have multiple EMR systems within inside my organization. The main problem that they’re trying to solve in that case is how to provide a single portal across their entire entity. How do I aggregate the data inside my own organization and then provide that through a single portal to my patient population?
In that case, our infrastructure allows us to very easily pull that all together and then drive that into a single portal for the patient. On the flip side, when the patient tries to communicate back to that entity, we can then route that information and integrate it into the appropriate hospital system or EMR on the back side. It provides that one fluid portal to this large complex entity.
In another case, you may have a community in a large city where you have multiple hospitals, clinics, multi-specialty groups, and single-specialty groups that all have different portals, but have come to the realization that patients want to manage their health information in a single location. That’s where we’re seeing multiple entities go into those communities and say, “We need a community-based solution. We’re going to all have separate portals and separate entry points, but we’re going to have one central repository for the patient to manage all that data.” There are multiple storefronts on that single repository.
You’re not just showing the patients stuff from different systems — you’re reposing data and doing something with it in addition to presenting it to them.
That’s correct. We have national master patient index, and one of our key components is translation services. When a patient connects to an individual organization and that organization releases the information to the patient or makes that connection, we translate all that data into a single nomenclature and put it up into that patient’s personal health record or repository. When they connect to another organization, we do the same thing, and we translate it into a common nomenclature and bring that in to the repository. The patient has a single view of their data across those multiple systems.
If they want to share back into those individual organizations, the aggregated sum of the data then comes back down. It can be discretely brought into those EMRs for verification by the healthcare provider.
Will there be capabilities on the provider side to do public health or surveillance or anything like that with the data that didn’t necessarily come from their own system?
Sure. We bring it back in to their systems, so then they have the capability if their systems support it. The first phase for us is building that national infrastructure and connecting patients with the physicians. For me, that was Phase I.
But if you look at trying to solve the overall healthcare issues that we have today, we know that we have to engage the patient. We know that we have to be proactive within our healthcare. Once we have this conduit in place, how can we leverage that to actually engage the patient and become proactive? That’s where population management, monitoring compliance, home health and wellness components layer on top of that to provide that true engagement at home.
The three product lines that we’re working on right now that sit on top of that infrastructure are exactly those. We have a population management component, we have a monitoring and compliance component, and then we have a home health and wellness component. Each one can live individually, but the entire suite together is what rounds out our whole patient engagement solution.
HITECH grant money is funding development of HIEs. How does your offering fit into the situation where somebody is already getting HIE money? What are they not doing that they could do if they had your product?
I’m on the board of Lincoln Land HIE here in Central Illinois, so I understand the HIE. I know what they’re trying to do. The way that I break it up is that current HIEs today are more focused on B2B transactions. You’re going to have data moving from organization to organization without the patient being involved.
That’s great. I love the concept of standardized interfacing for orders, results, documents across a large area, even potentially across multiple states. That’s much better for healthcare. The struggle is, how do you use those systems to engage the patient? They do provide value to the physician side, but I don’t see that patient engagement component.
What some of the HIEs are gearing up to do is to try to create a central repository and then do population management on that central repository, but organizations are really struggling with data ownership and competitive issues. If there’s five primary care physician groups all using that same repository trying to do population management, is the patient going to get five notices on some health maintenance reminder from five different people? That’s where the struggle is from an HIE perspective.
Where we’re a little different is that the data is managed by the patient and released by the patient. The patient decides, “I want this organization to be my primary care manager of that information,” and that’s where it’s going to flow and be managed.
So they’re not specifying data element by data element, saying, “This is OK to release. This isn’t.”
Right. There’s two different levels of release we’re building. The first level is based on request. The healthcare organization, based on an appointment reminder, will request information. What is being built with these new solutions is that the patient can set up a real-time flow of information back to an individual organization. That’s where that organization is going to get a lot more value, because all that information can flow real time to them.
Other than seeing their own data and controlling who else can see it, what patient engagement tools are possible?
From the Universal Health Record standpoint, all of the standard stuff that you get from a tethered portal. You can pay your bill online, prescription renewals, lab results, health maintenance reminders, online consults, either direct scheduling in or requesting a schedule appointment. I’m sure I’m probably missing something, but all of those basic features that you get from a tethered portal.
Other features you get are forms, but also sharing that information across different organizations. We also have a mobility suite for them, so if they are travelling, they can either fax or e-mail their health information directly from their phone. If I’m in Florida and my kid gets sick or I’m sick, I can provide that information directly to them if they’re not a FollowMyHealth user already. We have proxy support, so I can manage my parents’ health information if they give me access. There’s a lot of features I’m just managing and reviewing my information.
The other big thing that we see within our customer base is that most of them are doing a full release of information. They’re releasing all chart notes and scanned documents. You’re really getting a full release of information as opposed to just problems, allergies, meds, immunizations, and results. Our system is delivering a lot more tangible information to the patient.
A physician can set up a monitoring and compliance program and order that through the EMR system. That will monitor and notify care teams if a patient isn’t being compliant or if a data range became out of range. We can be very proactive in saying that we want you to either go through the patient portal and enter this information, or we want you to take one of these connected devices at home and we want you to take your blood pressure every day or whenever it may be. If you fall out of compliance, the system will automatically notify care team, nurse, physician … however you want that to be configured. Because of that connectivity, we have the ability to do some pretty cool things.
The trend everywhere, but especially on the interoperability side, is to open up the platform and let other folks build apps to sit on top of it and add value.
We’ve already done that. We provide a software development kit. Organizations, either our customers or non-customers, can come in and build applets that snap directly into the FollowMyHealth infrastructure. We provide that for free. There’s no fees for that. We believe in complete open systems and allow the consumer to choose. We are very, very open. We also have a very open standard on all of our interfacing into different systems. We’re trying to be as easy as possible to use.
People have shied away from the term “personal health record” since Google Health left a stench over it. What did you learn from the failure of Google Health?
There were really two issues. One was concern about privacy of data. Number Two was adding value to the end users. The Google Health mindset was to have the consumer or the patient come in, create an account on their own, and then manage it. If their organization someday decided to be a Google Health user, you might get some data to flow.
We’re taking a completely different approach. We are engaging the healthcare organization upfront, having them engage the patients to connect, and then providing real value in that connection. They get their data immediately. They have the ability to request appointments. They can get prescriptions refilled or renewed. They can go through that entire process and have real data right there upfront.
I’m really concerned about HealthVault as well. They take the same approach of, “Let’s have consumers come to us, create that record, and then hopefully connect someday.”
Any concluding thoughts?
We have to figure out ways to engage the patient. Not only sick patients, but healthy patients as well. We need to move to a model where the patient is engaged, the patient cares about their health, and they are being compliant. The focus need to be on how we can do that effectively. How can we create engaging tools that will allow our patient populations to help us manage their health?
That’s the true way we’re going to get cost out of healthcare. Whatever system it may be, we need to figure that out and make sure that we are engaging those populations.