HealthMyne Put the Band Back Together to Unite Medical Images & Data
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leverage the credibility they say their previous companies earned them with hospitals and clinics around the country. They point to the UW and Moffitt partnerships as early indicators that the strategy is working. But if they don’t deliver a good product that sustains their reputation and builds healthcare providers’ confidence in their new startup, HealthMyne could be toast.
Well-established electronic health records software providers like Epic, Cerner (NASDAQ: CERN), and McKesson (NYSE: MCK) have built big brands and trust that make hospital administrators and doctors “more inclined to use those services,” says Vishnu Lekraj, a senior financial analyst who covers healthcare services companies for Chicago-based Morningstar.
“That’s going to be a big hurdle for a lot of these smaller firms, these startups, to overcome in order to get entrenched or to build their service out,” Lekraj says.
In other words, HealthMyne needs to prove it has got an idea that will interest doctors and healthcare system administrators nationwide enough that they’ll pay for it—and perhaps pass over big-brand options to do so.
Currently, patient health records and medical images often reside in different software systems, which can make for a lot of extra work for physicians. A doctor studying a scan might think it looks like a patient has emphysema, for example, but if the attached notes from the radiologist don’t indicate that, she’ll have to check health records that might only be accessible at a different computer workstation.
“They’re literally getting up, walking somewhere else, getting a pad of paper, making some notes, and coming back,” Mackie says.
Or perhaps a doctor wants to compare a patient’s condition with a similar case from the previous week. There’s not an efficient way to do that now, Mackie says.
“I call it dark data,” he says. “If you can’t get to the data quickly, it’s like it doesn’t exist. Today, they’re wasting minutes, even hours in chasing down things that should be presented to them more easily.”
Plenty of companies offer software that aims to make it easier for clinicians to access medical images and associated data, including McKesson, Merge Healthcare (NASDAQ: MRGE), Agfa HealthCare, ScImage, and EMC (NYSE: EMC). And more competitors are likely to pop up in the next few years, reacting to federal reforms that are pushing healthcare providers to make imaging results electronically accessible and more closely linked with other patient data.
The electronic health records software sector overall is “getting more crowded,” Lekraj says. But there’s still room for smaller companies to grab a piece of the market, given the healthcare industry’s increased investment in such software and the fragmentation that still exists, with healthcare providers using lots of different electronic health records systems—even among hospitals and clinics that are part of the same health system. “It’s a market that is ripe with opportunity,” Lekraj says.
HealthMyne’s software will have several features that could help distinguish it in the market, including faster access to patient data, the ability to compare data across groups of patients, and “high-level image analytics,” Sinha says. “That’s where we think we can differentiate very well.”
With HealthMyne, not only will the doctor be able to quickly call up all of a patient’s relevant data, but the system will have the ability to run custom queries to compare large groups of patients that share certain characteristics, which can be useful in assessing the accuracy of a diagnosis or the effectiveness of a patient’s treatment, Gehring says.
For example, let’s say a doctor is viewing brain scans of a cancer patient taken six months after diagnosis. The software could pull data on similar patients from that same period in their treatment and present the findings in a chart or graphic laid right on top of the current patient’s brain scan. Data points of interest could include the size of similar patients’ tumors after six months and the survival rate of similar patients treated at the hospital over the past two years.
Current hospital imaging systems “are not really set up to compare across patient boundaries,” Chylla says.
Another feature of the software is a comprehensive timeline of the patient’s treatment, which could show when the person underwent scans, when he received chemotherapy treatment, and when he had surgery. Such a tool could help avoid unnecessary MRI or CT scans, which saves money and, in the case of CT, reduces the patient’s exposure to radiation.
The software will also draw colored lines on the medical scan that trace the contours of different segments of tumors, so that doctors can more easily see if the tumor is growing or shrinking. “We would detect the 3D structure of that tumor and the surrounding tissue,” Gehring says. Then, the software can create a chart with all the tumor’s statistics, such as its diameter, its volume, and how much of it is composed of necrotic, or dead, tissue.
Some existing products can handle the tumor-tracing tasks, but they don’t connect with all the other data and provide analytics like HealthMyne does, the company says.
“The efficiencies for the provider are going to be enormous,” says UW radiologist Patrick Turski, a HealthMyne investor and consultant. “The ability to rapidly integrate both imaging and the clinical medical record findings will be very easy, very automated.”
The biggest barrier to HealthMyne grabbing a foothold in the market will be the cost of its system, Turski says, especially considering the healthcare industry has a reputation for … Next Page »