Competitive Innovation in Healthcare

Posted on November 23, 2009

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As most of you are aware, last week Salesforce.com held its DreamForce 2009 Cloud Computing event.  Unfortunately, I had a conflict with an ITIL course and was unable to attend what is arguably one of the most important Cloud Computing events of the year.  However, I did have the pleasure of speaking briefly with Mr. Ryan Howard, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Practice Fusion.

For those of you who may not be aware, Practice Fusion is a free, SaaS based EHR service provider founded in 2005 by Mr. Howard, based out of San Francisco.  In addition to the current services it provides in the areas of medical billing, scheduling and patient record management, the latest key updates to their service, according to Mr. Howard, include lab integration (Quest Diagnostics) and eprescribing capabilities.

One of the interesting aspects of Practice Fusion aside from Salesforce.com’s investment in the company, and their SaaS based model enabled by Force.com, is the potential future direction for collaborative capabilities by patients with their new Patient Health Record application.

Similar to Google Health in that you can store and manage all your medical information in one place to collaborate with others (which may share your medical condition), though with Practice Fusion that collaboration can include your medical provider in a seamless manner.

It’s interesting to note that while EHR systems are not new, their implementation can cost millions of dollars, not to mention the necessary ongoing operational expenditures and staff to support and maintain such systems.  Which is why historically, the implementation of an EHR system was largely limited to organizations with deep pockets.  All of that becomes a non-issue for physicians with their own medical practices in this new SaaS based model.

For me, one of the fascinating areas of this business model is the new level of complexity in collaboration, no longer simply limited to doctor and patient, but more patient control in who they share their information with, to provide support in the resolution of their condition.  From a business model and service strategy perspective, I think the company is right on target.

Given the continued efforts to expand the use of EMR applications as a way of lowering healthcare costs, and the ARRA stimulus bill’s focus on encouraging physicians to adopt electronic medical record applications; when coupled with Practice Fusion’s continued innovation in this area, and Salesforce.com’s support, all but virtually guarantees a pathway to growth for the company in the years to come.

-Tune The Future-

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