There are a lot of companies out there struggling to get EMR technology aptly tailored for general practitioners, yet Modernizing Medicine is customizing its technology for a number of specialty areas, with good results so far. What’s the secret to the company’s success here?
It was clear that specialty physicians weren’t happy with the EMR system options on the market because none were tailored just for them. They want to treat their patients, and it took too much time away from patient care to customize generic EMR systems. So we do the hard part for them. We employ 18 specialty physicians that build software for their colleagues so EMA is ready upon purchase.
While doctors calling a typical software company with feedback end up speaking with an engineer or customer service rep who doesn’t understand what they need, doctors who call Modernizing Medicine can speak directly with other practicing specialty physicians who understand the medical language and workflow. Because Modernizing Medicine’s on staff physicians learn how to code EMA, they do not have to relay the information to a coder and risk losing elements of the system’s customization.
As a result, our clients enjoy a tailored product that understands their field and style of practice. In turn, physicians can work more efficiently, save time, code more accurately and offer patients greater quality of care. This strategy lies at the foundation of the company’s initial success, and we have stuck to it ever since.
How is the partnership with IBM’s Watson shaping the future prospects for the company? I know it began with the development of schEMA, an application to help dermatologists deliver optimal treatment at the point of care. How exactly have the two technologies come together to meet that end?
Modernizing Medicine became one of the first companies to be invited to join the exclusive IBM Watson Ecosystem, and through this partnership the company is developing schEMA, a powered by Watson application utilizing the cognitive computing capabilities of IBM Watson. Modernizing Medicine’s on-staff physicians teach schEMA the content of peer-reviewed journal articles from leading publications. This enables users to ask questions about conditions using natural language and at the point of care. schEMA matches those queries with clinically useful content, providing physicians and their patients with an instant, expert source of evidence-based data.
The physician gains near-instant access to relevant clinical information, which is then saved into the patient’s medical record. The patient can walk away from the visit with the necessary information, without the physician having to take the time to find it and delaying appropriate medical care. To further strengthen the relationship, IBM invested in Modernizing Medicine during the company’s $20 million Series D financing that closed in February 2015.
With the approximate 20 million in funding from IBM and other parties, what’s next in terms of development? I know you will be developing apps similar to schEMA powered by Watson across eight other specialties, but what else is on the drawing board?
Our partnership with IBM Watson is focused heavily around cognitive learning, which inherently focuses on the parsing of unstructured data – like that found in the most cutting edge medical research journals. While this is an area we believe holds substantial value, we must balance EMA’s ability to draw insight from structured patient data as well. Because EMA is built on structured data everything over the course of a patient visit is captured in a way that it can be easily compiled and mined at the practice level and even population level.
This allows physicians to easily view and report on outcomes and quality of care, by seeing how a patient is responding to treatment over time. This also means that EMA’s physician network can gain insight from what others in their field are doing. The capture of structured patient data is also at the core of EMA’s ability to completely automate ICD-10 coding, without the need for manual crosswalks or other complex, time consuming methods for addressing the new code set.
I read that the funding will also be used to enhance the current capabilities of schEMA, can you expand on that?
When we first started developing schEMA, we began with three common dermatological diagnoses: psoriasis, melanoma and atopic dermatitis. The first iteration of the application enabled dermatologists to pose queries, describe symptoms or search for information and statistics about these conditions and match those queries with clinically useful content. The goal is to aid dermatologists with an expert source of evidence-based data that they can use to inform their treatment recommendations – at the point of care.
Our team works very closely with IBM Watson to develop schEMA, so the plan is to continue expanding from these first three diagnoses to all dermatological diagnoses and then to EMA’s other specialties. schEMA is not a replacement for physician decision-making, but rather the tool to support the physician’s decision to improve health outcomes for their patients.