Salesforce imagines next-generation EHR

From the mHealthNews archive
By Eric Wicklund

Salesforce has joined the ranks of companies looking to make the electronic health record a platform for consumer health data.

The San Francisco-based software-as-a-service giant has announced the launch of the Salesforce Health Cloud, a platform designed to collect not only clinical data, but data from home-based medical devices and wearables.

"What gets measured gets improved," Joshua Newman, MD, chief medical officer for the company's Healthcare and Life Sciences division, told Fortune. "With everything in one place, now you can see what really affects outcomes. Is it a phone call? A text message? We haven't had that data before. The things that every business in America thinks about every single day that have never been in healthcare before and are now being brought in by demand."

It's not a new concept, or an easy one. Some might even call it the evolution of the PHR, which tried but failed to catch on a few years ago. The difference now is that mHealth devices and platforms are now connecting to the EHR, giving clinicians the opportunity to receive and analyze consumer-facing health and fitness data, as well as data brought in from home patient monitoring devices and other devices connected to the Internet of Things. The key is in finding an interface that providers will accept and use.

[See also: mHealth masters: UCLA's Molly Coye on the irony of EHRs]

Salesforce, which made its mark in customer relationship management programs, jumped into healthcare in August 2014 with a much-discussed partnership with Philips. The two companies integrated the Salesforce1 platform with Philips' Hospital to Home clinical platforms to create a scalable site for collecting clinical and consumer-facing data, such as information from Apple's HealthKit.

"We have entered a new transformative era for healthcare, and technology is enabling the industry to connect to, care for and engage with patients and each other in a profound new way," Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com, said then. "We are creating an open health platform and ecosystem to benefit everyone that cares about one of the most important issues of our time."

Speaking with Healthcare IT News, a sister publication of mHealth News in the HIMSS Media Group, Newman positioned Health Cloud is the next generation of EHRs.

"We think we are among the pioneers in the post-EHR world," he said. "We think about this as precision healthcare."

Whether health providers can gather all that data and use it to effectively manage patients remains to be seen. EHR providers like Epic, which is developing its own app store; and Cerner and MEDITECH, which are partnering with Validic, are working to incorporate mHealth data into the clinician-facing platform in such a way that it will prove useful for clinicians, rather than give them reams of data they don't want or need.

"Healthcare providers face a significant challenge: To deliver the best patient care possible, they rely on data sitting in multiple systems," Ross Mason, founder of MuleSoft, which is working with Salesforce to integrate outside data into the platform, told Fortune. "Connectivity is the key to unlocking this data and making it useful."

Related articles:

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Apple ResearchKit: Can patient-generated data be trusted?