Medicity, Emdeon join on 'Health 4.0'

By Mike Miliard
11:12 AM

“We're the largest clinical health information exchange, they're the largest financial administration network, and we're joining,” said Medicity chairman and CEO Kipp Lassetter, MD, in a meeting with Healthcare IT News at the recent Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's annual conference and exhibition in Atlanta.

Lassetter was speaking the day before an announcement of what he called the first “converged” national health information exchange (HIE), a partnership that will integrate Emdeon’s network of payers, providers, and pharmacies with Medicity's clinical exchange network, which is based on Medicity’s newly-unveiled iNexx Health 4.0 platform.

With Medicity and Emdeon in use at nearly 90 percent of physician practices between them, the project, Lassetter said, should have a “big impact on meaningful use” – combining access to both companies’ services and enabling providers to meet meaningful use criteria simply and cost-effectively – within their existing workflow, as an extension of the technologies already in use.

That's achieved through Medicity’s new iNexx platform, which, he said, is “inspired a little by the iPhone and [Apple's] app store.”

It’s a modular platform, open to any vendor or developer who’s willing to pay the platform fee (and “we've been inundated,” said Lassetter) it will give doctors the flexibility of choosing the applications they need from a wide array deployed for use.

“There may be six different e-prescribing applications,” said Lassetter. 
“One I like, the other I don’t. But [a physician] can download it, and it’s instantly running against their practice management systems so they don’t have to relay the patient data. It’s a big paradigm shift for healthcare.”

Lassetter concedes that “Health 4.0” might sound like a buzzword. But he argues that it’s the next logical step. If Health 1.0 was about content (portals, sites like WebMD), Health 2.0 was focused around communities that capitalize on the knowledge gained by specific patients and their physicians (a diabetes message board, say), and Health 3.0 is “more about semantic interoperability and commerce,” then Health 4.0 is about “coherence of information. And we really do believe these applications work in a very coherent, coordinated way around a single patient.”

That coherence, the melding of “financial and clinical information into a single coherent view for healthcare providers,” is why Emdeon partnered with Medicity, said Emdeon's CEO, George I. Lazenby. “Our collaboration is designed to break through the historical misconceptions regarding the separateness of clinical and financial health information. Both are health information and both are needed to create a complete patient-centric health record.”

Further, he said, “health information exchange is a required component for achieving meaningful use and it's not enough for a provider to just use an EHR inside the four walls of a physician practice or hospital. Emdeon currently performs more than five billion health information exchanges per year today, and many people don’t know that we conduct millions of e-prescriptions and e-lab orders/results as part of that total.”

“With the convergence of Medicity's clinical data exchange and Emdeon's existing exchange capabilities, we believe our provider customers will be able to achieve meaningful use with ease and deliver better, more efficient and highly coordinated care to the patients they serve,” he said.

Greg Walton, CIO of El Camino Hospital in Mountain View and Los Gatos, Calif, who's been a Medicity customer for more than six years, is excited about "Health 4.0" and the app-store paradigm.

"As soon as they can make it available to us we will start with it," he says. "I think it could really be a positive disruptive innovation to open up systems like Medicity has done. A couple other companies are doing it as well, and I think that's indicative of people realizing that the healthcare IT sector has got to change.”

“There's a lot of smart people running around healthcare who have great ideas," Walton says, "but the model that we've operated under for years now is a very slow model. A doc might have a good idea in March of 2010 and it may not show up in software for two or three years. The whole idea behind what Medicity is doing could mean that the software could show up in weeks or months. And that's likely to speed innovation and change, which we all should celebrate in healthcare."