Startups aim big on interoperability

Bold claims about universality from two new IT companies
By Tom Sullivan
08:04 AM
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Two startups emerged during the past week with some bold claims about being universal platforms for healthcare.

Whereas par8o announced itself to the world as "an operating system for the entire healthcare industry," fledgling developer ExamMed made a similar move on Tuesday – proclaiming itself "the only universal healthcare technology platform."

ExamMed co-founder Faraz Zubairi told Healthcare IT News that the company’s goal was to integrate several standalone systems —including electronic health records, billing, scheduling, practice and referral management and telehealth — into a single instance.

At the core of ExamMed is a centralized portal that patients can use to schedule appointments and, perhaps more important, to access and communicate with doctors. If both parties are wielding smartphones or tablets with cameras then HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing is among the optional modes of communication, and providers can bill for those services as long as they are in a state that allows it, working with a payer that pays for it, or are seeing a patient willing to lay down cash.

The company’s MedCoins capability enables patients to essentially pay in advance so they don’t have to submit financial information prior to every encounter, while the Smart Coding feature helps clinicians determine CPT and ICD codes and insurance eligibility. 

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Zubairi also said that the technology, available as a cloud service or on a self-hosted basis, offers the magic word in healthcare: interoperability. Via what ExamMed claims is “a universal patient profile,” providers can access patient records in any EHR. 

What’s more, the ExamMed platform carries a database of specialists to make in-network referrals easier.

To be clear: ExamMed and par8o are not offering the exact same capabilities — but there are some notable similarities in the technology as well as the marketing campaigns.

Par8o’s focus is on getting data out of EHRs, whether through application programming interfaces, cut-and-paste, sending attachments or a print-to-share feature that extracts data. And as par8o co-founder Daniel Palestrant, MD, described it, the service basically kicks in when a primary care physician needs to recommend a next step, such as a lab test or specialist visit, to consider the patients insurance and, ultimately, inform patients and providers about the best options based on quality and cost. 

Two startups, two different tacks to a similar problem. But both are making bold claims about universality and bringing a focus on EHR and patient data interoperability among providers. 

Can they make headway? Will an early-stage company or companies step in and enable the elusive interoperability that the industry spends so much time thinking about and working toward?