PatientKeeper’s iPad App Lets Docs Juggle Tasks, Furthers Firm’s Mobile Ambitions

5/25/10

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make the technology beneficial to that person,” he says. “You can’t say to them, ‘Hey, person, if you use this technology, it’s going to benefit all these other things and make the world a better place, but it’s going to slow you down and make you unproductive.’”

For the 200-person company’s latest mobile app, PatientKeeper took the capabilities it was already offering its users on their iPhones and iPod Touch devices and extended them to those with Apple’s iPad. (Read more here about the iPad’s capabilities.) Doctors can use the iPad app to view their patients’ lab results, medication history, and the status of exams or other things they have ordered. These are all tasks they might otherwise do manually or on another computer, so the firm’s software gives doctors the chance to do their work from virtually anywhere they can carry an iPad.

Apple controls about 60 percent of the smartphone market among physicians, Brient says, and that has prompted his firm to make its software accessible on the iPhone. The firm launched its first iPhone app in September 2009. Only about 20 percent of doctors who use the firm’s software do so with their smartphones, but Brient expects that rate to grow to 80 percent over the next year as more of them adopt the firm’s iPhone software. With its iPad app, the firm is betting that the tablet computer will become one of the next wireless computing phenomena in healthcare.

While PatientKeeper’s smartphone usage is important, the firm’s biggest priority over the past year has been to prepare for the imposition of “Meaningful Use,” the set of healthcare technology usage standards that will dictate whether a doctor’s office qualifies for its slice of the roughly $17 billion in federal incentives that Obama Administration’s healthcare reform legislation offers for adopting healthcare technology. In fact, the company raised $13 million in December to fuel expedited development of order-entry software, which will work on many platforms and willenable doctors to order lab tests, medications, and follow-up exams electronically. The software is expected to be required technology for doctors to comply with the new federal standards.

The company hasn’t officially launched the order-entry software, but customers such as Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, IA, and Naples, FL-based Health Management Associates (NYSEHMA) have already signed on to use it, Brient says. The firm’s software is designed to be built on top of existing health IT systems, while some larger firms require hospitals to adopt CPOE as part of an array of software they provide. The firm expects the new software to go live in the fourth quarter of this year, before doctors begin to collect incentives governed by “Meaningful Use” in 2011.

Flybridge Capital Partners, which first invested in PatientKeeper in 2008, sunk $5 million into the company’s latest round of funding for the CPOE project, says Chip Hazard, the general partner at Flybridge who led the firm’s investments in the company. The Boston venture firm, in fact, has led the company’s last two rounds of financing. A key factor in the firm’s decision to invest in PatientKeeper, Hazard says, was Brient’s expertise in health IT.

A former executive at the healthcare services giant McKesson, Brient took over as CEO of PatientKeeper in 2002. The small firm had already burned through $46 million of its $52 million in investment capital, he says, yet hadn’t found many customers for the technology it had developed or acquired. Brient says that he replaced every person in a management position at the firm within five months of his arrival because the previous managers had come from other industries and lacked experience in health IT. Today, after a significant investment in its CPOE product, the private company is finally earning as much as it’s spending, the CEO says.

“What the company has figured out how to do really well is provide technology that physicians actually use,” Hazard, a director at PatientKeeper, says. “Which sounds simpler than it actually is.”

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