Elation Health Ensures Physicians Focus on Patient Care
by Emily Melton, DFJ Partner
Today, I am excited to announce our investment in Elation Health, the first cloud based software solution designed for physicians in a clinical context.
I met with a number of health care technology platforms over the past six years, but it wasn’t until I met with Elation Health co-founders Kyna and Conan Fong that I saw how changing the paradigm of clinical software can effectively improve the physician / patient relationship driving better health outcomes.
I know firsthand that our current medical system is broken, and in need of a shot in the arm. Recently, I had an appointment with a top medical specialist at Stanford Hospital. She sat with her back to me typing into a computer as she asked me questions. Many of these questions had been asked of me multiple times by other physicians or clinical assistants both inside and out of Stanford, yet no one has a comprehensive view of my medical history. I had waited months to see this physician, but during our interaction she seemed more focused on data entry then getting to know me and why I was there for the visit. After reviewing my tests and ordering more, I was given a prescription along with a print out of her diagnosis (which conflicted with previous assessments). Thirty minutes after walking into her office, I was left alone staring at a piece of paper — frustrated and confused.
I grew up with a different experience. One that was focused on the individual patient. My childhood physician, Dr. Luther Giddings, ran a small family practice in the rural community of American Fork, UT. My mother had known him since she was a child, and even though we lived in Salt Lake City she would make the two-hour round trip to visit Dr. Giddings. What I remember most about those visits was Dr. Giddings asked lots of questions and listened to me about what was happening. I never felt rushed and each appointment provided further assurance that Dr. Giddings understood what was going on with me and cared about my health.
Today, I spend my life seeking out innovation and believe that technology has and will continue to have profound benefits on our daily lives. Yet when it comes to the clinical interactions I experience today, I can’t help but think that technology solutions have actually made things worse, making it impossible for physicians to care for people as Dr. Giddings once did for me.
I am not alone. Patients are frustrated, but equally distressing, physicians are increasingly dissatisfied with the medical profession. Current software solutions are not “eating” the health industry and they certainly are not replacing physicians, but the technology IS depressing the practitioners. In a 2012 survey performed by The Physicians Foundation, 77.4 percent of physicians are somewhat or very pessimistic about the future of the medical profession.
Current technology solutions, specifically Electronic Health Record (EHR) vendors were sold as technology advancements, but for many doctors, particularly those in individual offices or smaller practices, these EHR systems made things worse. The process of entering and retrieving information became more time consuming, limiting the ability for the physician to fully observe and care for the patient during a visit.
Enter Elation Health
Kyna and Conan’s father is an independent physician and both children worked in their father’s clinic. When it came time to find an EHR vendor, they witnessed the frustration their father experienced and recognized the need for a new approach. Their father aims to provide the best care to each patient who walks in his office and they believe that software should enable him to fulfill this purpose.
Elation Health is predicated on the belief that physician and patient collaboration must be at the center of our health system to be successful.
In April, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) introduced new reimbursement policies to emphasize performance over the traditional fee-for-service model. The rest of the healthcare marketplace is expected to follow the lead of CMS, fundamentally changing the business models of care delivery. While there has been heated debate surrounding the 962-page document — its reporting requirements, payment guidelines, and incentives — there is an unambiguous shift from volume-based care (incentives based on the number of patients seen) toward value-based care (incentives based on how the patient improves). This move redirects over $500 billion in reimbursement dollars. In a review of these proposals, Dr. John Halamka, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, makes a persuasive argument that the current technology solutions have created “more burden without enhancing workflow” and are not up to the task. New regulations, requirements of the ACA, and recently proposed reimbursement policies he argues are further exasperating this frustration. Dr. Halamka states “as a practicing clinician for 30 years, I can honestly say that it’s time to leave the profession if we stay on the current trajectory.”
The CMS is transforming our health care system and the frustrations and failures are not attributable to the approach, but rather to the current tools being used by the industry. Existing vendors, many of whom have not changed their IT stacks for over a decade, resist change and are incentivized to maintain the status quo. But change from fee for service to value based care requires a new medical infrastructure. The industry needs software tools that all physicians ACTUALLY WANT to use, cloud based solutions that enable interoperability and portability of data, data rights that recognize that patients and their physicians — NOT the IT systems — own the clinical data. Elation Health allows both health systems and small practices to comply with new CMS regulations while simultaneously improving physician engagement and satisfaction.
Elation Health aligns physician interactions with an engaged patient population and ultimately, better health outcomes. We are thrilled to back Elation Health to further enable Kyna, Conan, and their team to make better software for their father and all physicians. Here’s to the future Dr. Giddings.
Emily Melton is a partner at DFJ