Healthfinch’s Drug Refill App Graduates to Athenahealth Marketplace
Healthfinch, a Madison, WI-based developer of software that’s aimed at saving healthcare providers and patients time and energy, said on Monday that one of its products recently became available to a wider audience.
Swoop, an application Healthfinch created to make the process of reviewing prescription refill requests more efficient, is now listed on the Athenahealth Marketplace.
Watertown, MA-based Athenahealth (NASDAQ: ATHN) makes software that networks of hospitals and clinics use to manage information on their patients. The company is among the electronic health records (EHR) software vendors that have in recent years said they plan to introduce their own “app stores.”
The idea is similar to what Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL) have done for mobile developers with the two companies’ online markets for apps that run on the iOS and Android operating systems, respectively.
With EHR vendors’ app stores, however, it is the health systems that use their software doing the shopping, rather than individual smartphone and tablet users. The other main party involved is the app developer—Healthfinch, for instance.
Healthfinch launched Swoop in July and says it’s currently being used at eight health systems. The app can save the average physician two to four hours of work per week, the startup says—in particular doctors who are frequently assigned to review requests from patients who take chronic medication. Jonathan Baran, co-founder and CEO of Healthfinch, told Xconomy previously that these time savings are achieved in part by physicians building rules that look to data points—the date of a patient’s most recent visit or the last time lab work was performed, for example—and granting lower-level providers permission to order refills if all conditions are met.
Chris Tyne, Healthfinch’s vice president of product, says that his company and Athenahealth worked together to move Swoop through a pilot phase, which lasted about three months.
“We worked with six different health systems of varying sizes to work through that process,” Tyne says. “Athenahealth worked pretty closely with them to make sure they were getting support and satisfied with the products. And [Athenahealth] worked with us as well to make sure things were going smoothly on both the technical and clinical front.”
Athenahealth’s Marketplace, announced in 2013, currently lists 130 apps and services, 46 of which are still in the pilot phase. There are tools to help with tasks like scheduling, billing, and surveying patients, just to name a few.
Tyne says that Athenahealth uses the same basic revenue-sharing model that the App Store uses for iOS apps, and Google Play for Android apps. With those, developers don’t have to pay to list their products. But each time an app is purchased, the company that runs the marketplace receives a portion of the sale.
One of Athenahealth’s chief rivals is Verona, WI-based Epic Systems, which said last year that it too intended to open a virtual store for healthcare apps. Several months after Epic’s plans surfaced, it trademarked the name “App Orchard.” However, there is no indication on Epic’s website or on Open.epic—a site the company created to accelerate “the integration and innovation process” with customers and third-party software products—that App Orchard is live. Epic did not immediately return messages asking if it had already launched an app store, or still planned to do so in the future.
Tyne says that Healthfinch has configured its applications to work with EHR software developed by Chicago-based Allscripts (NASDAQ: MDRX), in addition to Epic and Athenahealth.
For many years, Epic and other leading EHR vendors worked with customers to set up “on-premise” computer systems, as VentureBeat reported in 2014. A recent trend, however, has been Athenahealth and other competitors that have ridden the wave of cloud computing, persuading prospective clients to opt instead for a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. With this Web-based approach, there is not a need to put racks of servers in or around hospital buildings.
Tyne says that health systems who use Athenahealth’s software can download Swoop from the vendor’s Marketplace and have the software up and running within a day.
“With the server-based systems, it is months of integration work and working with network teams and IT teams” before reaching the point where they’re ready to start using Healthfinch’s tools, Tyne says. “We really focus on how fast we can get our customers to use the software, to be able to take advantage of it.”