Entrepreneurs, Take this Home

“If you are an entrepreneur, take this slide home. Build a product that meets some of these needs, and I guarantee you’ve got a marketplace here in New York,” David Whitlinger, executive director of New York eHealth Collaborative, said at NYeC’s Digital Health Conference in Manhattan.

Here’s what the slide said:

· Broader access to patient information by all health care providers contributing to a patient’s care
· Secure methods for sending health information between health care organizations
· Notification, alerting and monitoring — the ability to proactively manage patient care via real time events
· Cross community care plan management tools for teams of providers and family caregivers
· Patient access to their own health information and engaging consumer-level health tools
· Analytics to help manage and measure the healthcare system

These market opportunities have one thing in common — they arise out of the availability of health information exchange. The six concepts aren’t foreign to most in health care. For many organizations preparing for performance-based reimbursements and for those setting up Accountable Care Organizations, these are six anticipated needs.

However, the story is a little different in New York, where they are six immediate needs. The beginnings of a statewide health information exchange network have been underway here for more than a year. To understand how it got started, look back to 2010 when Andrew Cuomo first became the state’s governor.

“In New York when Governor Cuomo took office he was staring down a debt that was incomprehensible. And the majority of that debt had to do with Medicaid,” Whitlinger said during a session about the state’s health information network.

In order to deal with rising Medicaid costs, New York formed the Medicaid Redesign Team. The MRT held a series of workgroups and public hearings around the state, and out of those meetings came a new care program for New York’s Medicaid enrollees with chronic conditions. It was called Medicaid Health Homes. It involved a model in which a care manager is responsible for providing and coordinating a patient’s access to health services across different settings.

“The health home program essentially around the state aligns together many different providers who are necessary to provide a continuum of care across a hospital, primary care, specialty care, long term care — a continuum of care such that a patient is looked after in a collaborative, team-based way,” Whitlinger said.

This requires a lot of data. And a lot of communication, and it’s needed now since this model has already been adopted.

“Providers, payors, public health officials and patients all now need a new set of tools,” Whitlinger said. “That’s a marketplace gap. That is customer demand for something that doesn’t exist.”

So how does the entrepreneurial community tap into this demand?

Fortunately the infrastructure for information sharing already exists in New York, and for developers that means there’s a platform to work with. It’s called the SHIN-NY, the statewide health information network of New York, and companies will soon be able to build on it. Eight startups have already been given access to the API.

According to the website NYeC is working to standardize the platform. Applications and software that are SHIN-NY standardized will be able to “plug and play” with information in the state’s HIE. There isn’t word yet on when the API will open up to everyone, but those looking to get access to it can register here.