Posted by Robert Lorsch | Filed under Posts by Robert Lorsch
I am on the plane on my way back to Los Angeles after a week in New Orleans for the HIMSS Conference (www.himssconference.org). It was an extraordinary week for MMRGlobal as one of the “Most Wanted” to see at the show. In some cases, being most wanted was driven by an interest in understanding what visitors to our booth had read about the Company’s patents and other intellectual property, but mostly because nearly every hospital administrator and Chief Technology Officer had Personal Health Records and interoperability on their shopping list going into Stage 2 of Meaningful Use.
And if it wasn’t a hospital in the booth looking for a PHR, they were a vendor also looking to purchase services to improve patient engagement, or to purchase the companies that provide the services that create patient engagement. One thing for sure, it was by far our biggest HIMSS yet, and everybody seems to be interested in buying, selling, acquiring or investing in anyone that offers tools for the patient, especially if it involves a PHR.
The week started with the food in New Orleans and ended with one more order of barbeque shrimp. However, the real focus of the week was anything but the food. It was about the ONC Coordinator, Dr. Farzad Mostashari, one of the most important men in my world, who in his keynote speech addressed the ‘human toll’ of a broken healthcare system, and how the way to fix it was though promoting interoperability and increasing transparency and access to data for patients, also known as a Personal Health Record. He went on to proclaim an agenda of no more excuses about patients not being able to get a copy of their medical records because of HIPAA. All I could hear at that point of his presentation was the theme “Our Day Has Come…” or something like that.
Dr. Mostashari went on, suggesting that to get us there, stimulus monies would go up to fund interoperability and offset any competitive disadvantage from sharing patient data. It was kind of like watching Kevin Costner in “Field Of Dreams,” when he was told by the “voice,” “If You Build It They Will Come.” And it looks like ONC will help build it and pay for it.
I have gotten dozens of calls from shareholders asking about the show and I could not have done a better job of telling them what it meant to their company than to explain that the United States government’s agenda of patient engagement is just beginning, and that patient engagement is what MMR is about. And to borrow from the “Music Man,“ with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for PHR.
Then on March 4, the first day of exhibits at the show, patents dominated the headlines, leading to a story entitled Patent Wars Heat Up and Cool Down at #HIMSS13. McKesson Corporation and Epic had announced a settlement of their longstanding, massive patent infringement case. Based on that announcement, the spotlight of the media shined on us and the recent press surrounding MMR’s extensive health IT patent portfolio and its possible relevance to the market. Our patent portfolio includes seven U.S. patents, as well as patents in 12 additional countries of commercial interest issued pending and applied for, including Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Mexico, Japan, Canada, Hong Kong, South Korea, Israel, and European nations. The article explains the MMR patents, integrated into our existing products and services which include Personal Health Records, Patient Portals and other Electronic Medical Record systems.
That may explain why, as I sat on the plane with dozens of CIO’s and Administrators from hospitals in California, who were also catching the last non-stop Delta flight out of New Orleans, I felt like I could fly without the jet. It took 8 years of sweat equity and more than $20 million for MMR to get to where it is today. It took both the Bush and Obama Administrations. It took government mandates, $20 billon in stimulus (so far, with more to come), and a massive worldwide push to make patients aware of the importance of joining the movement of managing their personal health. And then it took the invention of Meaningful Use.
Also on March 4th, at 11 AM, my world got rocked when five of the biggest Health IT vendors, representing an estimated 41% of the entire EMR market, announced the CommonWell™ Health Alliance. For the first time, it was like the day I figured out how prepaid phone cards could sell through mass merchandisers, turning a $5,000 investment into a billion dollar market cap company, before I resigned as CEO.
Cerner, McKesson, Allscripts, athenahealth, Greenway Medical Technologies and RelayHealth announced they were joining together for a single purpose of improving the quality of care delivery while working to lower costs for care providers, patients and the industry as a whole. The good news, and the validation of 8 long years, is that it starts with MMR’s primary customer, “the patient,” who triggers the ability of achieving data liquidity between systems, based on “Patient Authorizations.”
Nearly every presentation MMR has made over the past several years includes a depiction of how silos in healthcare keep providers from talking to one another. So when John Hammergren, Chairman and CEO, McKesson Corporation, said, “A national and trusted health information exchange will break down the information silos in health care and should dramatically improve the quality and cost effectiveness of care delivery,” the comment validated my beliefs in MMR and confirmed to me that our focus since inception on inventing and protecting technology surrounding PHRs was to take the right path from the beginning.
Neal Patterson, Co-Founder, Chairman, CEO and President of Cerner Corporation, stated, “Consumers not only have a right to their data, but also have the ability to mobilize it in the pursuit of better health. The Alliance is designed in part to “Help providers deliver a history of recent patient care encounters, and, with appropriate authorization, patient data across multiple providers and episodes of care.”
That’s what MMR is all about, we provide Personal Health Records to any patient, anywhere they are in the world, from any healthcare professional, regardless of technology, with or without an EMR, plus a whole lot more. MMR is designed to provide Personal Heath Records from a lifetime of encounters regardless of where they originate or what format they currently appear in.
And the drumbeat went on, with CEOs from Allscripts, athenahealth, Greenway and RelayHealth echoing the fight for the rights of the patient and the betterment of care. http://tinyurl.com/9wmbyee
However, not all were singing the praises of Commonwell. Epic Founder and Chief Executive Officer Judy Faulkner, stated, “We did not know about it. We were not invited.” Epic Executive Vice President Carl Dvorak, commented, “Despite the claims made by the members of the CommonWell Health Alliance, nobody asked Epic to join the group.” He continued, “I would really sincerely hope they (meaning CommonWell), put their energy behind true national standards.”
In or out of CommonWell, clearly, Epic is demonstrating they also care about patients and interoperability based on their existing personal health record offerings.
ONC Chief Dr. Mostashari was also asked his thoughts on the Commonwell – Epic controversy surrounding the announcements and comments. He was quoted as saying, “We have to zoom out a little bit and not get into the he-said she-said. [CommonWell] is incontrovertible evidence that interoperability and exchange is now a key market differentiator and vendors large and small are committed — five years ago that was not true. There is not a vendor in the country that can be blind to the need for interoperability. I welcome any market-based approach.”
The mood at the closing of the show seemed to indicate that most everyone, including the CEOs of Commonwell and Epic agreed that … we all have one thing in common-the patient, and that the patient has a right to their medical records.
In an industry where agreement and standardization are more than challenging, let’s hope that the CEOs mentioned in this blog can all agree that MMR’s “patient facing” products and services are for the good of all patients. It’s just one more thing that I am working hard to create agreement on.
Robert H. “Bob” Lorsch, CEO, MMRGlobal
4401 Wilshire Blvd., 2nd Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90010
Tel. 310-476-7002, Fax 206-374-6136
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