Health Startups And Bigwigs Crowd Into First NYC Health IT Showcase

12/5/11Follow @arleneweintraub

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on health and wellness. The startups included Your Nurse is On, which developed a software platform to simplify nurse staffing, and OrganizedWisdom, a consumer site that aggregates health information on the Web.

Even older, more established companies were eager to display their ability to bring cutting-edge technologies to the business of healthcare. William Feller and Steve Harstad of UnitedHealth (NYSE: UNH) traveled from the managed-care giant’s headquarters in Minnetonka, MN, to the NYeC conference to present several new technologies the company has been perfecting in recent months. They include DocGPS, a smartphone app that helps members instantly find doctors or hospitals wherever they are, and OptumizeMe, an app that allows people to set health and fitness goals and to create a virtual social network of similarly health-minded people.

Feller says the new generation of health IT products not only plays off the growing popularity of smartphones, it also reflects how consumers are thinking about their health. “Consumers desire health achievement. They want to lose weight or exercise more,” says Feller, chief information officer for United’s emerging business group. “Another trend is that they need help navigating the healthcare space.”

United is so determined to be a major player in health IT that it made OptumizeMe available to everyone—not just United’s members. “We’re trying in different ways to take technology and simplify healthcare,” says Harstad, who is a senior director for chronic condition management at United’s OptumHealth division.

NYeC’s Whitlinger hopes the popularity of the group’s first big event in the Big Apple will spark interest in one of its latest initiatives, the Statewide Health Information Network for New York (SHIN-NY). The network, first proposed in October 2010, will link doctors and health facilities in New York, so they can easily share records with each other. The system is designed to simplify health care for patients—they won’t need to transfer records between primary care doctors and specialists, for example—and to cut down mistakes and unnecessary, repeated tests.

“We want to have the ability to stitch together all the healthcare providers in New York,” Whitlinger says. “We’re looking forward now to a lot of interest in SHIN-NY 2.0.”

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