Health informatics company Impathiq raises $350K to improve EMR, app interoperability

By Heather Mack
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Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based Impathiq, which makes a data informatics platform that allows hospitals and health systems to integrate new apps and programs into their electronic medical records in accordance with interoperability standards, has announced it raised $350,000 in seed funding and has saved hospitals over $3 million in the year since its launch. Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Impathiq's funding amount and location city.

The health informatics company was founded by professors at Wake Forest School of Medicine, and was created to help health organizations get the most out of EMRs under the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) protocol. With Impathiq’s IQ Engine, hospitals and clinicians can implement new clinical pathways into EMR-integrated web applications, allowing them to track health outcomes and ensure quality, all the while compiling metrics for auditing purposes.

Impathiq CEO and cofounder Dr. Iltifat Husain (who also founded the digital health news site iMedicalApps) said the crux of the company’s mission is to increase functionality of EMRs as FHIR protocols are only recently beginning to be followed by the industry. 

“In the past, if a hospital wants to integrate a clinical pathway, say, managing sepsis, and they want to use their EMR, then they would have to send that to their in-house informatics team, which is primarily responsible for keeping the EMR running and all the systems online,” Husain told MobiHealthNews. “Their number one priority is not implementing physician behavior change programs, so it will take a long time and it will be expensive.”

Now that FHIR is becoming more commonplace, Husain said, there is a role for Impathiq to play as a facilitator.

“The time is now. You look at what happened with 21st Century Cures Act. That legislation really set those expectations in stone,” Husain said. “Cerner’s apps and Epic’s App Orchard have been around for awhile, but they’ve always existed under these nebulous ways that didn’t have clear interoperability standards. So we wanted to create a plug-and-play platform that allows hospitals to bring in this EMR-integrated apps in a scalable, affordable way.”

Impathiq’s platform started out as an app developed by Wake Forest researchers, who were looking to establish a care protocol for patients who came into the emergency room with chest pain. They created the HEART Pathway, a proprietary algorithm that proved successful across multiple areas – including a reduction of costly observation-status admissions, shorter hospital stays and keeping missed conditions low. The results were published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, and the Cambridge Health Alliance picked up HEART Pathway. Impathiq is working on bringing their platform to the Epic and Cerner app stores, and Husain said they have received considerable interest across healthcare organizations looking to improve outcomes with clinical decision support tools. 

“We have this unique experience as doctors and with running iMedicalApps where we have a real lay of the land,” Husain said. “So we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t, and we knew that with mobile technology and informatics, how to get it to integrate into workflows without being cumbersome or expensive is something a lot of people haven’t figured out.”

As more apps to maximize EMR functionality hit the market, Impathiq wants to grease the wheels of integration and interoperability, and according to increasingly sophisticated standards. Husain likened pre-FHIR days to the first iteration of the iPhone, which launched before the app store did. When the second version launched along with the app store, it completely changed the smartphone experience, Husain noted, because the apps themselves are what is responsible for driving usability of smartphone. As smartphone makers can’t possibly create all the apps, they created the store to ensure every app had built-in functionality with the phone. 

“Essentially, the app store is the interoperability standards for the smartphone,” Husain said. “If you can imagine giving a smartphone to the hospital and said, ‘hey, this is what you are going to use to integrate this new program into your hospital’,  they’d be scared, they’d spend a lot of time figuring it out, hard-coding lines, worrying about security, etc. But if you have a separate environment that is sandboxed away and takes care of all the integration, it’s game-changing.”

To keep building on the goal, Impathiq will continue forging partnerships with a variety of healthcare organizations and funding sources, and plans to apply for the Small Business Innovation Research program. Along with their evidence-based pathways, Husain said the company also prides itself the intelligent capabilities of the IQ Engine. Rather than a glorified data collector, the platform leverages data to give hospitals the actionable insights needed for clinical decision support. 

“You can just take databases and throw algorithms at them,” said Husain. “You have to do it intelligently and develop tools to drive legitimate outcomes.”