The 2015 MedTech Innovator competition has recently announced their coveted 4 finalists. The finalists will compete at the AdvaMed 2015 conference for $300,000 in prizes. One of the four finalists is MedAware, a unique approach to alerting providers to medication errors. EMR systems currently are set to alert physicians if they make common mistakes such as ordering duplicate medications, medications patients are allergic too, or high doses. The problem is that these alerts trigger so frequently that they are of little value and are often ignored. MedAware looks to solve this problem by utilizing a proprietary algorithm that continually trains itself to improve its effectiveness. MedAware tries to decrease the total number of alerts in addition to decreasing the number of “false alerts.” We had a chance to speak with Dr. Gidi Stein, CEO and co-founder of MedAware, to learn more about the technology.
Dr. Stein: As a practicing physician I always thought that teaching and practicing medicine would be the center of my life, but all that changed a few years ago, when a 9-year-old boy died, when his primary care physician simply clicked on the wrong entry in the pull down menu list and prescribed the boy with the wrong drug by mistake.
The physician wanted to prescribe the boy with Singulair – a drug for asthma, but mistakenly he clicked on the next entry in the drug pull down menu list, which was Sintrom – a potent anti-coagulant, and all of the current systems have failed to prevent this tragedy from happening and a week later the boy fell off his bike and died of intra-cranial hemorrhage.
It wasn’t bad judgement on part of that physician, it was a slip up, a mix up, it’s like killing someone with a typo.
With hundreds of thousands of lives at risk of injury and death from medication-related errors each year in the US, surely finding a disruptive solution to this problem would save much more lives than I could ever do by treating individual patients.
Medgadget: What EMR systems is your product compatible with?
Dr. Stein: Chameleon (Israel’s leading EMR for hospitals) and we’re currently integrating with Allscripts.
Medgadget: Can you give an example of your product in action? Say I’m a prescribing physician, how would the software try and warn me in a way different than the current typical EMR methods?
Dr. Stein: When the physician enters a new prescription into the EMR, if MedAware identifies a potential error – [an] alert will be displayed in a similar manner to the currently deployed alert systems, only that MedAware’s alert will be generated rarely (1/300 prescriptions as compared to 1/7 prescriptions by the current solutions) and with high specificity (<10% false alarms as compared to > 90% false alarms by the current systems).
If [new] data is received (i.e. new blood tests, new procedures/diagnosis, change in vital signs) which renders one of the active medications dangerous for that patient, MedAware will generate a new alert and send to the physician and dispensing nurse. This functionality is unique to MedAware.
Medgadget: Can you give a little insight into what data your product analyzes and how?
Dr. Stein: We analyze continuous structured electronic medical record data: demographics, admissions, outpatient visits, diagnosis, procedures, blood tests, prescriptions,vital signs etc.)
For each drug, we create a mathematical model which describes which patients are likely and which are unlikely to be prescribed with that specific drug.
We then match the new prescription with the patient’s profile via the model and generate an alert if appropriate. We then take the response of the physician to the alerts that we provide (accept/reject) and feed it back to the model to make it more accurate.
Medgadget: Have you made any interesting discoveries yet with the data you have collected so far?
Dr. Stein: We have found many errors that we didn’t imagine exist: chemotherapy prescribed [by] mistake to patients without cancer or any other indication, fertility drugs to an elderly patient with dementia, viagra to a 3 year old child without any chronic illnesses and many more…
Another interesting observation is that the clinical knowledge-base our system creates which is derived from the electronic medical records data, reflects the actual practices of the physicians, for the better and for the worst.
Medgadget: How has the MedTech innovator competition/accelerator affected your company?
Dr. Stein: The MedTech accelerator and competition have granted us unprecedented exposure to key players in the industry and have opened several interesting relationships.
Medgadget: Can you describe a major obstacle you faced taking a concept and turning it into a tangible product/service?
Dr. Stein: Entering a disruptive solution to the arena is a challenge. At first customers do not understand that they have a problem (i.e. “we never make mistakes”…). When we show them the numbers they don’t believe that such a solution might work. When we show them the results of 3 pilots from Israeli hospitals and HMO, they say “Israel is so much different from the US – show us on US data.” When we show them on US data, they say they have no bandwidth for any other project as they have their hands full with implementation of the meaningful use, etc…
Medgadget: We have many aspiring medtech innovators who read the site. Do you have any advice for them as they set out to make their mark on the world of healthcare?
Dr. Stein: Here are my 2 cents:
1) Try not to fall in love with your technology – try to solve a REAL problem
2) Locating the customer in [a] healthcare organization is a challenge. Try to find the one with the pain but that also has a paycheck
3) It seems that saving the world is easy, making money out of it is hard…
4) If someone says what you are trying to do can’t be done – you are on the right track
5) Don’t pay attention to any 2 cents advice you don’t resonate with