Healthfinch Seeks to Take Automation in Healthcare Up a Level

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automation in healthcare “is allowing doctors and nurses to focus on the highest value-add work.”

Indeed, the prospect of a patient going in for a regular check-up and being seen by a robot doctor, not a human, still seems quite a ways off. A 2013 study by researchers at Oxford University ranked 702 occupations by how “computerize-able” they were. Physicians and surgeons were among the 15 occupations least likely to be computerized in the future, the researchers wrote. (Telemarketers were rated the most likely to be computerized.)

Of course, Healthfinch’s software is not designed to replace physicians, but instead to reduce the amount of time they spend performing tasks that don’t require a lot of critical thinking.

To be able to use Healthfinch’s software, a healthcare provider must have already installed electronic medical records (EMR) software, which hospitals and clinics use to manage patient information. Today’s leading EMR software vendors include Kansas City, MO-based Cerner (NASDAQ: CERN), Watertown, MA-based Athenahealth (NASDAQ: ATHN), and Verona, WI-based Epic Systems.

Some of these companies have in recent years introduced application marketplaces, similar to what Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL) have done for developers who build mobile apps that run on the iOS and Android operating systems. But with EMR vendors’ app stores, the shoppers are the hospitals and clinics that use their software, rather than individual smartphone and tablet owners.

Healthfinch’s refill management and visit planning applications are listed on Athenahealth’s Marketplace and Epic’s App Orchard. On one hand, these app stores have achieved their aim of making it simpler for outside healthcare software developers to integrate their products with those of Epic, Athenahealth, and other EMR vendors. Still, asked whether many clinics have approached Healthfinch after seeing the startup’s tools listed in their EMR system’s app store, Baran says he “would love for that to be the case,” but healthcare providers typically follow deeply entrenched processes when deciding whether to license new software products.

“Despite the fact that these app stores are out there and might bring some awareness, [providers] are not used to buying from them,” Baran says.

But based on the healthcare IT sector’s recent trajectory, he believes more providers may begin consulting their EMR vendor’s marketplace when they’re searching for an application that performs a specific function.

“They could think of it as, ‘Hey, I have a gap in something that I’d like to accomplish—maybe I should go to one of these app marketplaces to find a solution,’” Baran says.

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