Epic’s Data Deal With HealthMyne, UW Health Could Help Quell Critics

Epic Systems, based in the Madison, WI, area, has been described as an “unwitting contributor” to the local healthtech startup ecosystem it helped spawn and now towers over. But that reputation could begin to shift, if a partnership unveiled Tuesday is a harbinger of things to come.

HealthMyne, a Madison startup that makes analytics software that can comb health systems’ medical image databases, announced a “pivotal unification” of electronic health records data and imaging information, which it achieved by teaming up with Epic and the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, aka UW Health. That health network is based in Madison and has used Epic’s software for years.

The deal shows that Epic, the giant electronic health records software developer, is not only interested in selling to local organizations, but also working alongside some of them—including startups.

The deal lends more credibility to nascent HealthMyne, while potentially helping to burnish Epic’s image among critics. Some, including the author of a recent Mother Jones article, have accused Epic of having a closed system that makes it difficult to share health data. Locally, there have been complaints that Epic could do more to support the area’s healthtech startups; and in some cases, critics think it hinders new business creation through non-compete agreements and other restrictions.

“HealthMyne is a model example of how applications can leverage Epic’s open, standards-based interoperability platform to access the data they need from the (electronic health record),” Epic president Carl Dvorak said in a press release.

There is no financial agreement in place between Epic and HealthMyne, said Del Coufal, HealthMyne’s vice president of marketing and business development.

The integration of software systems should yield efficiency gains for clinicians in the near term, HealthMyne said. Instead of having to glance back and forth between multiple screens or application windows, physicians and other users can view X-rays and CT scans in the same place as patient data, which include past procedures, lab results, and medications.

“Radiologists will now be able to easily view imaging data together with relevant patient health record data—all within HealthMyne’s care timeline feature,” said HealthMyne CEO Praveeen Sinha. “This is a powerful capability that is lacking with current imaging systems.”

But much of the value of linking up with Epic’s software will be reaped over time in the form of an “evidence-based population health model,” HealthMyne said. This means that as more patients and images are added to the system, users will increasingly benefit from the ability to compare individual cases with data from large groups of similar patients. Taking it a step further, a system that continually becomes smarter and more expansive could, in theory, trigger a progression from reactive care to proactive treatment down the line.

“We expect even greater gains can be achieved by leveraging the data unification and moving into clinical and predictive analytics,” said Jeffrey Kanne, a professor of radiology and chief of thoracic imaging at UW Health. “Being able to data mine the imaging-derived properties native to HealthMyne, together with Epic’s health record information, such as outcomes, should result in powerful decision support capabilities.”

The idea for HealthMyne was sparked by a conversation between Sinha and two other fellow serial entrepreneurs from the Madison area, Rock Mackie and Mark Gehring. Earlier this year, the company raised $4.5 million in a Series A financing round and announced its software received clearance from the FDA.

HealthMyne’s software has thus far been used at two pilot sites: UW Health and the Tampa, FL-based Moffitt Cancer Center. Coufal, the HealthMyne vice president, declined to disclose terms of either agreement. HealthMyne hopes to start signing up customers as soon as next month, he said, and the next electronic records vendor it plans to integrate with is Kansas City, MO-based Cerner (NASDAQ: CERN).

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