A functioning health system depends on the nursing staff having the right data at the right time to make the right decision about which course of treatment a patient needs.
After the COVID-19 epidemic and the acceleration in consumer acceptance of telemedicine, as well as the fragmentation of care for a number of different low-cost providers, access to a patient's medical records to get an accurate picture of their health is becoming even more important.
Opening access to developers could also unlock new, integrated services that give consumers a better window into their own health and consumer goods companies and the opportunity to develop new tools to improve health.
While hospitals, emergency care facilities, and health systems have kept patient records electronically for years thanks to the laws passed under the Clinton administration, it has been difficult for patients themselves to access these records. The way the system was historically structured has made it almost impossible for an individual to access his entire medical history.
It is a major obstacle to ensuring that patients receive the best possible care, and so far it has been a boulder that companies have long tried to roll uphill just to let it roll over them.
New regulations now require that developers of electronic patient records cannot hinder interoperability and access to applications. These new rules can unleash a wave of new digital services.
At least companies like New York-based startup Particle Health hope for it. The startup was founded by a former paramedic and consultant, Troy Bannister, and a longtime software engineer for companies like Palantir and Google, Dan Horbatt.
Particle health enters the breach with an API -based solution that is strongly based on the work of plaid and stripe in the world of financial services. It's a move that is supported by investors like Menlo Ventures. Startup Health, Collaborative Fund, Story Ventures and Company Ventures and angel investors from the management of Flatiron Health, Clover Health, Plaid, Petal and Hometeam.
"My first reaction when I met Troy and he described what they were doing was that it wasn't possible," said Greg Yap. Menlo Ventures partner to manage the company's life science investments. "We understood how difficult and tax-wise the lack of easy data portability for the health system is, but the problem has always felt that there are so many obstacles that it is too difficult to solve."
What convinced Yap's company Menlo Ventures and the company's other supporters was the ability to provide both data portability and data protection so that patient choice was central to the use and access to data, the investor said.
"(A service) has to be portable to be useful, but it has to be private to be useful," says Yap.
The company is not the first company to raise money for a data integration service. Last year, redox, A developer of API services for hospitals based in Madison, Wisconsin raised $ 33 million in a later round of funding. Meanwhile Innovaccer, Another API developer has raised over $ 100 million from investors for its own revenue.
Each of these companies, according to Patterson, solves a different problem that the information silos pose in the medical industry. "Your integrations are focused one on one on hospitals," he said. Application developers can use Redox's services to access medical records from a specific hospital network, he said. While using Particle Health technology, developers can access an entire network.
“You get contracts and agreements with the hospitals. We're going up the food chain and getting contracts with the (electronic health records), ”said Patterson.
One of the things that give Particle Health greater freedom to purchase and integrate with existing health systems is the adoption of the 21st Century Cures Act in 2016. This law required providers of electronic health records such as Cerner and EPIC to be removed all roadblocks that would isolate patient data. Another is the Trusted Exchange Framework and the Common Agreement, which was only approved last month.
"We don't like to rely on companies that need a change in law to be successful," said Yap of the circumstances in which particles can overtake well-funded competitors. However, the ability to fund a company that could solve a core problem in digital healthcare was too convincing.
"What we really say is that consumers should have access to their medical records," he said.
This access can make wearables more useful to consumers by possibly linking them – and the health data they collect – to clinical data used by doctors to actually make care and treatment decisions. Most devices are not clinically recognized these days and have no real health system integration. Access to better data could change this on both sides.
"Digital health applications could be far more effective if they can include contextual information in today's medical record," said Yap. "This is an example where the patient has a much greater impact on digital health applications when the digital health applications can access all of the information that the medical system has collected."
With the investment, which is valued at around $ 48 million in particle health, Bannister and his team plan to aggressively penetrate other areas of digital health services.
"We are currently focusing on telemedicine," said Bannister. "We're moving into the paying room … As of today, we really look after the third parties who need the records. We strongly believe that patients want control over their data, but not management. "
The company's reach is impressive. Bannister estimates that particle health can affect between 250 and 300 million US patient records. “We have more or less solved the fragmentation problem. We have an API that can retrieve information from almost anywhere. "
To date, Particle Health has signed eight live contracts with telemedicine and virtual health companies that have accessed 1.4 million patient records through their API.
"The way it works now, if you give them permission to access your data, it is for a very specific purpose. You can only use it for this one purpose. Suppose you used a telemedicine service. I allow this doctor to view my records only for the purpose of treatment. We then developed a way for you to revoke access after the point, ”said Bannister.
Particle Health's colleagues in the world of API development also see the power of better and more open access to data. "A lot of money has been spent and a lot of blood and sweat has gone into the publication (electronic health records)," said Mike Sutten, Innovaccer's chief digital officer.
The former head of technology at Kaiser Permanente, Sutten is familiar with health technology. "The next decade is about" using all of this data. "Let's give the doctors something back and give them access to all of this data and think about consumers and patients," said Sutten.
Innovaccer strives to provide its own tools for centralizing data for doctors and consumers. "The less friction there is in extracting this data, the more benefit we can offer consumers and clinicians," said Sutten.
Particle Health is already considering how its API can help application developers build tools that help manage COVID-19 populations and may find ways to ease current disease outbreaks.
"If you have had an antibody test or a PCR test in the past … we should have access to this data and be able to provide it on a large scale," said Bannister.
"There are probably other risk factors that could at least help investigate or clarify groups. If this person has been quarantined, they have been in the hospital for the past month or two. Things like that can help close the gap. " The final solution to universal testing and the lack of testing capacity to do it, he said.
"We are definitely working on these public health initiatives," said Bannister. Soon, the company's technology – and related services – could work behind the scenes of private health initiatives from some of the country's largest companies, as software is finally causing major problems for the consumer health industry.