CEO spotlight: Allscripts' Paul Black on staying relevant in the maturing EHR market
Many tech titans and innovative upstarts are trying to solve the existing health data interoperability problem and to make data secure, transportable and actionable. Allscripts is among those.
In an interview ahead of HIMSS17, Healthcare IT News asked Allscripts CEO Paul Black about maintaining relevancy in a maturing EHR market, how the company is working to make its architecture a platform for third-party innovation and about what Black described as "a brilliant solution for interoperability."
Q: A lot is happening in the EHR market, and some analysts would say it's starting to look like a three-way race between Cerner, Epic and Meditech. So what is Allscripts doing to stay relevant in the maturing EHR fray?
A: We're in a much better position than we were five years ago, because of the investments we made organically to build out our product suite Sunrise. I feel good about what we’ve done to fill in some of the capabilities that in the past were not there but are today. When people get a refresh on Allscripts of what we had in 2012 versus what we have today, that draws a lot of, "Wow, I didn’t you know had this," or "I didn’t know you had that."
Q: Can you give some specific examples?
A: Our approach to open is a lot different than other approaches to open. We publish APIs. A lot of companies will do CCDAs but we open our system up at the API level and that’s a big deal. You have to be certified to do that. We have also created an innovation platform and we encourage people to develop tools that are consumer-based or financially-based that allow apps to sit on top of our platform and innovate on top of it. We now have 5,000 people certified to develop on top of an Allscripts platform. Since 2013 we’ve had 2 billion API data exchanges. So when you ask, "Is it working?," or "Is it interesting?" when people talk about open our definition has to do with being vendor agnostic and we allow a very deep level of integration. I want people creating an ecosystem that I’m the center of, of course, from which I encourage people to pull information out so they can take better care of their patients. There’s a group of people inside our company whose sole job is to help startups. It’s a sizable piece of our organization and we have a chief innovation officer. Now with everything being digital the frustration that will continue in the marketplace is not being able to have pure liquidification of data across all electronic medical records — there will be a market need for that interoperability, which we think we have an extraordinarily brilliant answer for.
Q: Alright, I’ll bite: You said you have a brilliant solution for interoperability. What might that be?
A: We have a solution in place within our CareInMotion suite called dbMotion. It is an EMR-agnostic approach to pulling data out of multiple electronic medical records, meaning athena, Cerner, Epic, Meditech, eClinicalWorks, NextGen and putting that data into a single community record. We then can pull in information from insurance companies or a health exchange and the third thing I can pull in is genomic information. So our dbMotion platform is an approach to give a single view of the patient that has multiple different records subsystems. That data then can be analyzed to identify populations that look like me, people who have the same three conditions I have, how they respond to treatment and, more importantly, it sends that information back into the other medical records so the clinicians, primary care and specialists, all have a protocol they can follow when I show up.
For the workflow component, the way we do it is different. A lot of people have interoperability platforms to pull the data up into an HIE. That’s good but once the data are there you want to make it actionable and the ‘ah ha’ moment is when you can then send it back down into the original sending electronic medical record and you have to do that workflow in a way that is non-invasive. So the clinician looking at the record only gets the new information about me and no, "Click on this HIE and get everything about Paul Black since the day I was born." Practicing busy clinicians want to know if there is anything else in the community that they don’t already know, like a prescription, allergy or med I’ve been given. That workflow is the clever piece of what we do that is different than anything else I’ve seen.
Q: Some people would apply the buzzword "post-EHR" era to that scenario you just described …
A: I would say that buzzword is the reality of living in a digital platform. The U.S. broadly — whether its 92, 94 or 98 percent, whatever the numbers ONC publishes — every doctor and hospital has an electronic medical record. The platform is digitized and this is a fascinating time to be alive because it’s the first time in the history of this country that all these data are now digital, available, and the people who make the most use of that and turn it into something actionable clinically, financially and from a research standpoint, are going to win. It’s going to be extremely important for us to, instead of saying, "That was great we’re done," and sitting back in a rocking chair, now it's, "Holy moly, we have all of this data what are we going to do with it? And how do we use all this data to drive more efficient, effective care that produces better outcomes for people who have serious issues?"
Q: What’s next for Allscripts? And the healthcare industry at large?
A: I think we’ll see continued adoption of some the things we’re doing in the States in other countries. Other countries have been waiting but there is going to be an effect of mass digitization. We’ll see other nations undertaking large IT projects at scale; there will be a global focus on this, either organization by organization or ministry of health by ministry of health. Secondly, I think all the data that is a byproduct of the mass digitization will be a boon for analytics, will be a boon for having a much better feel for the ins and outs of the operational side of healthcare as well as the clinical side. And I believe there will be price-performance that leads to mass adoption of genomic testing. And then having diagnostics, based on data, come out of an EMR to clinicians so they can order the test, get the results back in the EMR and know how to personalize care regimens. If I look out 10 years, we’ll be surprised and shocked at how quickly these things become commonplace.
This article is part of our ongoing coverage of HIMSS17. Visit Destination HIMSS17 for previews, reporting live from the show floor and after the conference.