EClinicalWorks Unveils Mobile App as Patients’ Go-To Site for Healthcare

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health care professionals can access patient records and organize the tasks of care using devices such as the iPad or the iPhone, according to a survey by Informationweek. A competitor of eClinicalWorks, the Watertown, MA, company Athenahealth (NASDAQ: ATHN), recently announced that it has agreed to acquire a mobile medical reference platform widely used by doctors, Epocrates of San Mateo, CA.

The Health & Online Wellness unit founded by eClinicalWorks seeks to expand the patient side of the electronic health care management conversation.

Patients of health care providers that are part of eClinicalWorks’ subscriber base can already call up their medical records and interact with doctors on desktop computers or laptops through the eClinicalWorks Patient Portal, which has 8 million users, Navani says.

The company will build on that customer base to attract users to the healow app. Navani says the app improves on the patient portal website because it can allow patients to pull together information from all practitioners, information sources, and outside apps that contribute to maintaining their health. A user such as a parent could also manage the health-related activities of children, as well as other family members who give consent, within a single healow account.

Navani expects that all these features will help build the customer base for eClinicalWorks’ existing electronic health records business. “If we establish wide use among consumers, then doctors will be enticed to participate,” he says.

But the company’s ambitions for healow may be broader than that. The Health & Online Wellness subsidiary, which is housed in a separate building near company headquarters, with an initial staff of 85, will be given the freedom to develop independent business strategies, Navani says. He says eClinicalWorks has not disclosed healow’s management structure.

The cloud-based healow app will soon be modified to allow patients to access their health records even if their doctors are not eClinicalWorks subscribers. Non-member doctors can make this possible by joining a network set up by eClinicalWorks as a conduit for collaboration among practitioners, regardless of the electronic health records service they use. Already, 20 percent of the network’s members are not subscribers of eClinicalWorks, Navani says.

The network could expand the user base for healow, and thus, the customer base for other services that may become integrated within the app. For example, Navani says plans are in the works for a directory that patients could use to comparison-shop for health care providers, from medical specialists to physical therapists.

Navani says he expects that outside developers will continue to design apps to integrate with healow. Health plans and other organizations could use it as a platform to develop wellness programs that could reduce the overall costs of medical care, the company notes. Doctors can send patients reminders each time they’re due to take their medicine.

Like many an Internet entrepreneur, Navani says the first priority is to build his company’s consumer network. Patients will get a free ride.

“We will never charge for the healow app,” he says.

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