Phreesia Keeps Data Digital When Patients Check In

4/6/11

The United States is investing billions of dollars to get doctors to use electronic health records for patients at their practices. Why then, Phreesia CEO Chaim Indig asks, are patients being handed the same old clipboards with papers to fill out when they arrive for appointments?

New York-based Phreesia, which Indig co-founded in 2005, aims to replace the clipboard with a wireless tablet computer called the PhreesiaPad. With about $17 billion allocated to boost the adoption of electronic health records made available through the the passage of President Obama’s economic stimulus plan about two years ago, doctors have had new incentives to make the jump from paper-based recordkeeping systems to digital health records. Though the federal incentives don’t apply to Phreesia’s technology, the overall theme of using information technology to better engage patients in their healthcare has worked in the company’s favor.

The way Indig sees it, healthcare has some catching up to do with other industries such as retail and financial services. Many of us pay for gas with a credit card at the pump, and we use ATM machines to deposit and withdraw cash, but such levels of automation are rarely seen when we step into a doctor’s office. The vast majority of doctors’ offices still give patients papers to fill out at check-in and employ office staff to process payments and check for valid insurance. This despite the fact that these practices are investing in electronic health records systems. “They’ve invested all this money in technology but they still haven’t enabled their patient,” Indig says.

PhreesiaPads present forms and questionnaires to patients on a touch screen. The devices come equipped with card swipes and can process insurance copayments, check and validate insurance, and enable other transactions. Phreesia doesn’t disclose specific financial figures or customer numbers, but Indig says the pads are now used by thousands of doctors in all 50 states and have handled millions of patient intakes.

Indig and co-founder Evan Roberts, the firm’s chief technology officer, learned about the need for data in health care while working in the Boston area for a software analytics firm called Spotfire (which was later sold to TIBCO Software in 2007 in a deal valued at $195 million). They both moved from Boston to New York City in 2005 to form Phreesia, initially running the company out of a small apartment on the Upper East Side.

While the co-founders left the Hub for Manhattan, the firm has won heavy support from Boston-area backers including HLM Venture Partners and Polaris … Next Page »

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