In today's healthcare landscape, it's not enough to sell a device any more. You have to think about the ecosystem.
mHealth concepts are living and dying on the strength of their integrations. A device that can't synch to the underlying software, a platform that doesn't play well with other apps or which meshes with only one EMR, won't last long.
One of the latest to address that trend is Welch Allyn, a long-time player in the diagnostic device field. The New York-based company is moving beyond its foundation of vital signs monitoring devices to create a platform that not only collects data, but pushes it where it needs to go.
"It's the beginning of a new direction for us," says Scott Gucciardi, Welch Allyn's senior vice president of new healthcare delivery solutions and part of the team that debuted the Connex Spot Monitor at the American College of Physicians Internal Medicine Meeting 2015 earlier this year in Boston. The wireless device, marketed to health systems, collects vital signs – namely pulse rate, blood pressure, pulse oximetry and temperature – from bedside devices, then enters them into the EMR.
And that's the key. Health systems are looking for ways to get data from the patient into the EMR with as little interference as possible. That means less wires, less log-ins and connections, fewer chances of something being misinterpreted or entered with a period in the wrong place or a 0 instead of a 9.
[See also: Will mHealth's rise signal the end of the EMR?]
Gucciardi and Kevin Payne, Welch Allyn's manager of cardiopulmonary and vital signs marketing efforts, say "connectable products" will dominate the marketplace in the near future. Wireless physician's offices and clinics and home-based monitoring programs will all depend on diagnostic devices that can send data directly to the EMR with as little fuss as possible.
"We've traditionally … taken vital signs in the hospital or the physician setting," says Gucciardi. "We're a vital signs company at our core. Now they're being taken at home instead of in the doctor's office, or in a clinic, or somewhere else."
Alongside the Connex Spot Monitor, Welch Allyn recently introduced the RetinaVue Network, a mobile platform that enables doctors to perform retinal exams, transfer those images to a cloud-based HIPAA-compliant portal, have those images examined by board-certified diagnostic specialists, and then receive a report and management plan, all within 90 minutes. The platform is especially helpful in detecting problems in diabetic patients, who experience a much higher incidence of retinopathy.
Just this month, the company announced that RetinaVue has been integrated with Allscripts TouchWorks EHR through the Allscripts Open API platform. By tying the retina screening process directly into the Allscripts EHR, officials say, doctors can examine their patients more quickly, receive near-real-time diagnostic support and jump on any problems while they can still be managed.
Both Connex and RetinaVue target workflow issues for clinicians. They're designed to push information from the patient into the medical record at a much faster rate, and give clinicians data that they can use. This evolution of mobile data-capture and analysis is showing up in many areas, ranging from cardiac and COPD monitoring to diabetes management (as witnessed by Medtronic's recent partnership with Glooko).
"We have many customers who just aren't connecting into their EMR," says Payne. "They haven't thought about it, or they're not comfortable (with the technology) just yet," or they're skeptical of the accuracy of the data.
"We have the opportunity – and our customers need us to – deliver more value than just the device," adds Gucciardi. "Rather than a transaction, this is a solution – the whole being greater than the sum of the parts."