Last week we met with the leadership of iMedicor, the secure healthcare portal and conduit for medical documents. Today we’ll take a look at the interface and platform they plan to use to elevate them to an essential part of the US healthcare infrastructure.
At it’s core, iMedicor is a social networking app — it has more in common with Linkedin than any electronic health record or information system. But it’s got features that may make it indispensable to healthcare communication in the future.
Like LinkedIn (or Facebook or Sermo or iMedExchange) any physician, nurse, tech, administrator, or patient can log into iMedicor and set up an account for free.
Physicians are prompted to enter their DEA number, NPI number, license number, and other numbers that signify great power and responsibility (in a nifty twist, this info can be used, if the MD wants, to auto-populate a CV that can then be tweaked and expanded). Administrators can batch-upload an entire office or department full of physicians, or nurses and techs, too.
Once you’re logged in, what’s there to do? Well, lots, much of which we’ll cover later this week. But the first thing may be to set up or import contacts and create a community of doctors. If you’re a primary care doctor, you’d probably link up to specialists to whom you refer patients, or other docs with whom to share notes or ideas. Once they’re in the system, you can securely transmit medical information to them in a HIPAA-compliant fashion.
That might not sound like a headline feature, but it is. If you’re not in health care, we can’t tell you how frustrating it is to try to get medical records in a timely fashion — it often involves mail or fax or the personal delivery of folders, phone calls before and after, permissions and letterheads, wrong numbers, busy signals, paper jams, and suspicious clerks. Health communication in 2009 looks a lot like it did in 1989, except for those brave, misguided souls that use unsecured email to transmit patient data, risking exposure and legal action.
iMedicor is well-positioned to change that. In addition to doc-to-doc communication, there’s the option for office-based transmission of records — a ‘shared inbox.’ You can have your clerk or the nurse up front access or receive certain reports, organizing what’s necessary for the day’s patient visits. Doctors can also send patients their health information through a relationship with Microsoft Health Vault (covered here previously) .
But where iMedicor really stands out, in our estimation, is its interoperability between electronic health information systems. Through some clever coding and pdf manipulation, iMedicor can abstract a patient record from your office EMR, rearrange it to conform to an XML-based standard, and transmit it to another EMR where it should be able to populate a new electronic patient record. We have not seen this in action but iMedicor is confident their engineers have pulled this off.
If this does work as well as they say, you can see how powerfully this system scales as more physicians join. Instead of the current plan to spend billions to build regional, then national health information exchanges (HIE’s) administered by ad hoc agencies with insurance, government, and hospital stakeholders, iMedicor is proposing their flavor of social networking can accomplish the same information exchange, much cheaper.
Are they right? We posed some familiar use cases — the chest pain patient in one emergency department, with a recent cath report across town in another hospital, or the traveler who sees a doc while vacationing, whose doc back home wants lab results. iMedicor always has a solution or two — either through physicians granting access to other docs or empowering patients via MS Health Vault.
It’s not the on-health information exchange quite the way we were trained to expect it — where a single login gets you access to whatever you’re cleared for. iMedicor’s network system, with permissions and inboxes, is different, but may provide the same functionality… and will be available much sooner.
Next: if this is free, how is iMedicor going to make money?