Greenville, South Carolina-based ChartSpan has raised $1 million in seed funding in a round led by Byrne Medical's Don Byrne. The Iron Yard, a digital health accelerator that incubated ChartSpan, also contributed.
ChartSpan just recently launched a patient-facing personal health record tool, which, as well as importing records in various electronic formats, can convert paper records into structured data using machine learning and optical character recognition. Using the iOS app (and, in the future, Android, Google Glass, and desktop versions), patients can request records from providers and send records to others, according to the company. The app uses Blue Button Plus to enable the import of data from EHRs.
Co-founder and CEO Jon-Michial Carter told MobiHealthNews that ChartSpan arose out of frustration with the speed of interoperability requirements under ONC's Meaningful Use guidelines, especially considering recent delays.
"Other than Blue Button Plus, you don’t have anything out there that’s pervasive that’s creating electronic health records for patients," he said. "We think we’ve made a start in that direction by giving patients access to portals, but the truth is that’s a joke. With most patient portals, you’re left with a PDF that you have to print out that becomes a piece of paper. And the tethered PHRs from the EHR companies, it’s proprietary. It only works with their unique file systems. So we’ve done very little in regards to getting patients access to electronic health records."
Carter stressed that ChartSpan is 100 percent a tool for patients, not for doctors, which allows for a more comprehensive electronic health record than a single provider can maintain.
"When we go to your doctor, that doctor will capture all the information from that healthcare encounter, and he’ll put it into the EHR and he’ll create the structured data," he said. "But that only represents 15 percent of your total healthcare encounters. Because when you go to the urgent care facility two days from now, your doctor won’t have that information. When you go to the dentist a month from now, your doctor won’t have that information. When you go to the chiropractor, the eye doctor, to get a prescription filled. When you get your genome mapped for $100 from 23andMe, your doctor won’t have that data. The only person who has access to your health data is you."
One criticism that's often leveled at PHRs is that they rely on getting patients to take stewardship of maintaining their own health record, a pretty big cultural shift from where we are today. But Carter says ChartSpan is focused on the two groups that already maintain personal records: Parents (mostly mothers) and engaged patients with one or more chronic conditions.
"Those two groups, for the most part, have manilla folders with pieces of paper in them," he said. "And it’s those groups we paid attention to. We spent a great deal of time focused on how healthcare works for them and, in excess of 90 percent of time, they’re stuck with pieces of paper, that’s how they manage healthcare records."
Carter thinks the rest of the population will come around though. In the near future, ChartSpan plans to integrate with Apple HealthKit so patients can combine their traditional healthcare system data from ChartSpan with self-tracking data from apps and connected devices, and potentially start to deliver new health insights.
"I guarantee you, over the next few years, the number of people who care about their healthcare information is going to grow, thanks to Apple, thanks to Google, and thanks to all the other vendors that are building tools that make people care," he said. "We think ChartSpan fills an interesting niche here. While everyone’s capturing the biohealth data and a lot of people are simply waiting for interoperability to happen to capture conditional data, we’re coming up with technology and tools that will allow patients to capture conditional data and make it easy to do so."