The empowered and engaged patient is the Holy Grail of health care. If patients were able to – and wanted to – manage their own health proactively so that the healthcare system would be less reactive we would see reduced costs and improved outcomes. There are a number of technologies ranging from Quantified Self wearable devices to gamified apps that seek to do this. One new entrant in the space is called ManageMD, which is creating a “patient cloud.” We spoke with their founder, Buzz White, about what that means and why empowering patients is so important.
Shiv Gaglani, Medgadget: What problem are you solving?
Buzz White: Current health information exchange (HIE) initiatives don’t connect all data sources, they actually connect very few data sources, and there is no focus on the patient. There are a number of reasons for this, not the least of which are costs and politics. We’re turning this on its head by empowering the patient to collect, manage and share their own health information and enhancing the patient/physician relationship. The patient is the ONLY element common across all care settings. Our system allows the patient to collect information from any source to build a complete and searchable longitudinal patient record and make that record available to the right physician at the right time. Making it searchable ensures the physician is not inundated with a huge, unstructured record, making it flexible in its data sources ensures the patient is able to collect and share any bit of information associated with them. We are helping patients request and receive all their information, which is a difficult task for the average patient.
Medgadget: What was the story behind ManageMD?
White: My wife was diagnosed with Grave’s disease 5 years ago. The treatment path sent us to multiple specialists every month. We were the only ones who cared to take our information from point to point, we were the only ones who invested in the effort to promote the continuity of my wife’s care. In 2012, we moved to Austin from Dallas, just 3 months after we decided to irradiate my wife’s Thyroid (the medication was not working). We searched for the best endocrinologist in Austin and set up a visit. We sent the medical record ahead of us, but the physician refused to take it into account. It was incomplete, on paper and not digestible. The new physician started over and it set my wife back in her care. I stood by her through emotionally and medically difficult times and it was killing me. It shouldn’t have to be this way. I didn’t have the ability to collect everything I needed or provide it in a meaningful manner to the physician. Our efforts weren’t good enough and it hurt the love of my life. This story should never have to be told again.
Medgadget: Do you have any competitors and, if so, what makes you different?
White: We do. It’s not a crowded space by any means, but we’re not the only ones who have recognized the problem. I think the key differentiator for each team will be how exactly we show value and to whom. That, and go to market strategy. Reaching patients is one of the most difficult tasks in health care; our strategies will differentiate us. We’ve been in this industry for a long time and have developed different solutions; we’ve seen what doesn’t work and we are well aware of the problems many stakeholders face. We can get to the patient by relieving the burdens of others in the industry, this is how we will serve patients.
Some folks believe there is value in just having your health information, we don’t. This is truly what will make us successful. We believe it’s about the information itself, but what the patient can do with that information. The ability to get it to the right person at the right time, that’s the true value.
Medgadget: What trends in medical innovation/technology are you most excited about?
White: What gets me out of bed every morning is the theory of the informed and empowered consumer. Many people see the problems of our industry as opportunity, and we do too, but we believe the empowered consumer is the key to cracking the healthcare nut in the future. Empowerment comes through education and ability. Many resources have been around for years educating patients, which has been an awesome first step. Now we need to give the patient the ability to affect the change he/she needs. The ability to understand and participate in their own care, as their own team captain, that power is what drives us every day to try to make a difference.
Our industry is all about hiding choices from the patient and that’s just not right. Patients have the right to make educated decisions, physicians and caregivers should be our trusted advisors and we should work together to focus on the only thing that truly matters, the patient.
Medgadget: What is your background?
White: Professionally, I grew up on the physician side of the equation through organized medicine. This is where I was turned on to health information technology from day one. Being a geek, all I could do was imagine how technology can improve the industry. We had started a health information exchange effort right after I started my first job and I dove in head first. We worked on this for years and we failed a number of times before finally pulling it off in 2010. With funding from ARRA and the State HIE Grant Program, we founded the HIE in North Texas serving 7 Million patients, 12,000 physicians and 140 hospitals.