HealthLX Raises $405K to Help Clients’ Systems Exchange Health Data
From a cardholder’s perspective, paying with plastic is really simple: swipe your card, enter a PIN if necessary, wait a couple seconds for the transaction to be approved, and be on your way.
But during that momentary pause, there’s quite a bit happening behind the scenes. The point-of-sale terminal needs to send a query with information on your account and the cost of the item(s) you wish to buy. That way, it can verify that you have sufficient funds in your account, and that you haven’t reached your monthly credit limit.
During the 1990s, the standards around point-of-sale processing were relatively loose, says Will Tesch, who worked in a retail-focused position at the time. Complaints from frustrated retailers eventually reached the ears of Tesch and others, who worked with large computer companies like IBM (NYSE: IBM) and NCR (NYSE: NCR) to improve communication between different systems.
Today, software developers and engineers are undertaking a similar effort around the exchange of patient health data, says Tesch, who is now CEO at HealthLX, a Grafton, WI-based startup.
“We’re already seeing the same kind of movement happening in healthcare,” he says. “You’re beginning to see more and more of a need for standardized data. Vendors are going to be required to use standard means to get data out of their systems.”
On Thursday, HealthLX disclosed in a document filed with regulators that it has raised $405,000 in equity financing from five investors. Tesch says he expects that figure to increase—it could climb as high as $1 million, according to the filing—but he did not give a specific total.
Tesch declined to reveal the names of investors, citing ongoing fundraising efforts at HealthLX, which he says is short for “Health Language Exchange.”
Tesch is also the founder and CEO of TeschGlobal—like HealthLX, based in Grafton—which provides software and information technology consulting services.
Though HealthLX was launched in 2014, Tesch says that the systems integration work performed by engineers at TeschGlobal led to the creation of HealthLX. He founded TeschGlobal in 2005 and says that company has worked on healthcare-related projects for more than eight years. “We can stand on the shoulders of a strong organization,” he says, describing HealthLX’s relationship with TeschGlobal.
Tesch adds that HealthLX customers get help implementing the software from employees of TeschGlobal, not HealthLX.
With HealthLX’s software, users can perform actions such as documenting that a patient has been discharged from the hospital. This information can be transmitted to downstream systems, such as those that handle the process of billing patients for care. One increasingly popular way of exchanging data is via an application programming interface (API), which brokers connections to applications used by health systems, payers, and others.
“The nature of healthcare is literally a foreign language to many different systems,” Tesch says. “They need a translator to get data from one environment to another.”
HealthLX sells its software and services by partnering with other healthcare businesses. In June, the startup announced a collaboration with Bedford, MA-based Casenet aimed at improving its software, which helps users coordinate patient care.
Another Badger State startup that develops tools designed to make health data flow more fluidly between systems is Redox, based in Madison, WI. The company’s API was developed specifically for getting data into and out of electronic health records systems. That shouldn’t come as any surprise, considering Redox was co-founded by former employees of Epic Systems, one of the largest and most ascendant vendors in the healthtech industry.
Epic—located just outside of Madison in Verona, WI—and some of its chief competitors have in recent months made headlines for what they’re doing—or, critics might contend, not doing—to help healthcare organizations share patient records. In some news reports, health IT insiders have raised the question of whether vendors are deliberately walling off their systems in an attempt to add customers.
Even for a giant like Epic—whose “enterprise” software covers everything from clinical documentation to scheduling and billing, across hospital and outpatient settings—clients often need help connecting software that falls outside their primary vendor’s bailiwick, Tesch says. “They can’t keep their hands around all of it,” he says.