When we think about electronic medical records (EMR), lots things come to mind including the hiccups and headaches that have come with the technology’s lack features and functionality over the years. But that’s all changing, according to Modernizing Medicine’s CEO Dan Cane; EMRs are evolving to better assist physicians in unprecedented ways.
Cane should know since he’s helping his Boca Raton, FL-based company lead the way in developing a new league of sophisticated EMR technology across a number of medical specialties. Gone are the yesteryears of fumbling through irrelevant data-inputs. Today, EMRs are adapting an encouraging a natural fluidity between technology and patient interaction, along with the functionality of tapping into the valuable groundswell of unstructured data.
Modernizing Medicine is tackling those feats through its partnering with IBM’s Watson Ecosystem, developing EMR apps that take advantage of Watson’s cognitive computing capabilities. Turns out, Watson’s potential goes far beyond outsmarting opponents on Jeopardy and could lead to more intuitive healthcare technology on the horizon.
To learn more about this EMR evolution, we sat down with Cane to talk about his company, its plans for further technological development, and how Watson-powered EMR technology is poised to change the way physicians tap into relevant data at the point of care:
Today, Modernizing Medicine is serving more than 5,000 U.S healthcare providers, including approximately 30% of today’s dermatologists, but tell us a little about how Modernizing Medicine began? What’s the story behind the company’s inception and its growth up until this point?
Modernizing Medicine is the result of a partnership between myself and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Sherling, a practicing dermatologist in Palm Beach County, FL. In 2009, I took a trip to Dr. Sherling’s office for a routine medical exam and marveled at the lack of technology that was available. We both agreed that dermatologists needed an effective EMR system to save time and be more efficient than paper charts – one that knew dermatology diagnoses, treatments and workflow out of the box. One didn’t exist, so I agreed to help Dr. Sherling build it using my entrepreneurial and software skills plus his medical expertise. Soon after, we began coding a new solution specifically built around dermatologists’ workflow.
This led to the creation of company’s flagship product, EMA Dermatology®, and the foundation of Modernizing Medicine in 2010. The dermatology EMR model proved so successful that we hired additional physicians from other specialties to begin coding their knowledge into EMA. This would soon allow functionality in other specialties – ophthalmology, orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery, otolaryngology, gastroenterology and urology – that other EMR vendors largely ignore.
In just five years, Modernizing Medicine has gone from a small startup to a powerhouse in the highly competitive healthcare IT industry, raising capital of roughly $49 million. Modernizing Medicine has also grown its revenue and employee base, year over year, impacting job creation in Palm Beach County, FL. We have doubled our workforce since 2012, currently employing almost 300 workers in our Boca Raton, FL, office, as well as in our new west coast office in Roseville, CA.
How did your former experience of starting education-technology company Blackboard translate to you working in HIT? Do you think you were able to bring something unique from the education industry into the healthcare?
My experience at Blackboard allowed me to recognize the much needed revolution the healthcare industry needed. During the inception of Blackboard, my partners and I were told repeatedly that education has been done a certain way, and to change it would cause total disruption. It was this disruption that allowed people to realize that one cannot simply rely on the traditional tools that had dominated for so long – primarily pen and paper – to maintain a productive concept of learning.
It was evident that the healthcare industry was slow-moving and in dire need of technology to improve how physicians practice medicine and how patients receive care. Much like the student experience in the classroom, the patient experience in the doctor’s office needed to be more engaging, collaborative, dynamic and practical. And more importantly, physicians needed the right tools at their fingertips to efficiently provide evidence-based care to patients in the exam room. I took my background in economics, entrepreneurship and software development that I honed at Blackboard and used this knowledge to create a unique approach that would change the conventional idea of treatment and care options – and it worked.
Similarly, what were some of the challenges you encountered when starting a company in healthcare? We know regulation can be a big one for those making the crossover.
Like any highly regulated industry, there are considerations that must be made around compliance. At a time in healthcare when the government is heading up numerous mandates around how providers use technology, the challenge lies in remaining compliant while still addressing practical business challenges such as workflow, billing and the physician/patient relationship. Modernizing Medicine is deeply committed to addressing issues such as Meaningful Use, PQRS, HIPAA and ICD-10, and we’ve been able to do that through tight collaboration with our on staff practicing physicians who know what it takes to develop tools that will help not hinder, but actually help with daily practice.
The increased regulations can be extremely time consuming for physicians using paper or first generation EMR systems. The fact that EMA collects structured patient data at the point of care means that physicians only have to enter information once. This data can then be used for multiple purposes from generating Meaningful Use reports, to populating PQRS forms, and to seeing how a patient’s disease has progressed over time.
Finally our intuitive user interface facilitates various regulations and will make the transition to ICD-10 a non-issue for our users. Our EMA Anatomic Atlas™ is a zoomable, 3D image of the body that physicians can zoom in or zoom out plus peel back layers of skin to see muscles, bones and joints. And by merely touching on the iPad screen, physicians capture the body part, laterality, etc. – the specificity that will be required by ICD-10. Physicians won’t have to worry about translation tools, crosswalks, GEMs, etc. It’s all built in.
So what makes Modernizing Medicine’s EMR technology different? How does the specialty-specific features of EMA help demonstrate the company’s philosophy about data input and decision-making at the point of care?
Our Electronic Medical Assistant®, or EMA, differentiates itself from other EMR systems because it doesn’t run on macros or templates and automatically adapts to the way physicians practice using predictive algorithms. The conditions physicians treat most often are automatically moved to the top of the list – no more clicking to find most common treatments.
By having practicing physicians develop it, EMA is available out of the box with built-in diagnoses, procedures and treatment regimens for that particular specialty. For example, EMA Dermatology remembers laser settings, units of Botox used for a given area of the face and even a physician’s choice of anesthesia and suture for biopsies. Input anything once, and EMA will remember. Like a great medical assistant, EMA anticipates what physicians need without them asking for it.
Another key differentiator is EMA’s cloud-based approach to collecting and storing patient information in a structured way. Modernizing Medicine visualizes this treatment data at the point of care on an iPad so doctors can make more effective decisions. In real time, a provider can see their treatment profile for any given disease and see how it compares to the patterns of their colleagues in their practice and their peers nationally. This creates a national standard of care to improve medical compliance and decision-making. Plus, collecting patient data on an iPad improves the physician/patient relationship. Physicians don’t have to turn their backs to patients or spend time typing, plus the iPad is an excellent patient education tool.