Hello Health Deploys $10M To Expanding Patient-Funded Health Records

3/13/12Follow @arleneweintraub

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visits with patients. Because the video visits are not actual exams—and therefore not payable by insurance—doctors can charge patients directly for them, and have the payments processed through Hello Health. “We see this as the evolution of the relationship between the doctor and the patient,” Armstrong says. “And it offers doctors a way to generate more revenue.”

For physician Weigel, who runs his practice in partnership with his wife, the small conveniences offered by Hello Health have been especially appealing. “Patients who spend their winters in Florida or their summers in Maine can easily access their medical records online, so they can show them to doctors there,” he says. And several of his New Jersey patients have been taking advantage of the ability to schedule appointments online, he says. “The majority are making appointments on Sunday night, so they don’t have to wait until the office opens on Monday. That has been helpful.”

As Hello Health expands nationwide, it will likely run up against competition from a variety of sources. Several large hospital groups and insurance companies have launched their own EHR systems, and the universe of independent players is growing, too. There are major players, such as Athenahealth (NASDAQ: ATHN) and eClinicalWorks, plus a host of more specialized startups. On the appointment-scheduling side of the equation, for example, Hello Health competes with its New York neighbor, ZocDoc, which has raised $95 million since it was founded in 2007. Then there’s Practice Fusion, a San Francisco-based EHR company that has raised $34 million in venture capital to expand its platform, which is fueled by advertising. Armstrong isn’t worried. “Practice Fusion is free but the doctors are being asked to look at advertising,” he says. “The shortcoming there is that it doesn’t offer revenue-generating opportunities for doctors and it doesn’t offer the strong patient engagement.”

Hello Health is hoping to boost its patient-engagement capabilities via a partnership it formed in December with San Diego-based electronics giant Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM). The two companies are working together to develop a host of smart medical gizmos that can collect information from patients and beam it wirelessly into their EHRs. Hello Health is working on the initiative with Qualcomm Life, a new subsidiary that’s developing a hub of interconnected medical devices. “Say you step on a scale in your home that has a wireless sensor,” Armstrong says. “The hub can take that information and bring it up into the cloud. We can snag that data and bring it into the Hello Health platform.”

In February, Hello Health and Qualcomm Life appeared together at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems conference, where they manned a pavilion that used a dashboard display to showcase a variety of wireless, Internet-connected medical devices. “The dashboard is a great example of how biometric data can be aggregated and displayed,” says a Qualcomm spokesman in an e-mail.

Armstrong says that Hello Health will be using its new funding to expand its marketing team, so it can roll out its product in all 50 states. The company is also looking for ways to enhance the platform’s capabilities in areas such as billing, Armstrong says. He adds that the company is focusing on marketing the platform to small, independent practices that have between one and five physicians. “These are the doctors that don’t have a lot of time to deal with technology and that question whether they can afford an EHR, even with the government subsidies,” he says.

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