Ahead of Google Health and HealthVault: PointOne

Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault seem to be the leading forces in the market of electronic health records. Now I would like to show you something that can shape the future of healthcare. Robert S. Pothier, the President and CEO of PointOne Systems, answered some of my questions about the RedBox system.

  • Please tell us what RedBox is about.

RedBox is the core technology of PointOne. It is a software that takes in patient information from a variety of sources, analyzes the information based on established medical best practices, research findings and our own algorithms, and then provides reports that can focus on overall health assessments, risks and next steps.

  • What do I need to do to use it?

Although RedBox has been in development since 1998 and PointOne has been marketing its capability since 2001, the tool has not been available at a consumer level until this year. PointOne is now working on interfaces that will allow consumers direct access. At the end of July PointOne will launch a website called ClearSense that will allow consumers to get reports directly and use their Personal Health Records as a source of information for the reports. The new website will be Beta tested with a select group for a short time and then available to the public for free initially.

  • Why do you think it is beneficial to have online health records?

Consumers need to be in control of their own healthcare and having immediate access to our own health records is key to that. If we expect individuals to manage their own health, they need the data to do so. It is ridiculous that I can’t see everything that’s been done to me, my wife or my children from a health perspective in one place. How can I monitor my blood pressure or cholesterol if I don’t have access to that data over time? The doctor has it in his records, along with my immunizations and other things. Why don’t I have it? We talk about it being “private” and “confidential” but right now it’s only “private” and “confidential” to the doctor. For me it’s just a hassle to get access to it.

  • Where does the health data come from that is used in RedBox?

Initially the data will come directly from the consumer (answers to a questionnaire) or from a PHR (likely not a lot of these at first). Eventually, however, we’d like to see RedBox access data from anywhere health data resides, whether it’s a fitness club, blood donation center or even home monitoring devices.

  • In some of the reports you published, there are action items that can improve my health (e.g. get an annual physical exam or schedule a hypertension evaluation). Are these suggestions made by physicians or this is an automatic feature of the software?

This is an automatic feature of the software. The reports we provide are not dispositive, meaning we don’t say “you have diabetes” or “you have breast cancer”. That’s for a doctor to decide. However, our reports are designed to be educational. In addition to learning something about yourself, it also lists what you should be doing to monitor your health or providing information about tests you should consider. For example, many women do not know that the BRCA1/2 tests are even available. If you had a family history of breast or cervical cancer on one of our reports, the action item would mention the test as something to consider. It’s pushing the right information to the right people.

  • What do you expect from the next months? How many users do you think will register?

We do not expect that this is a technology that will explode onto the scene. The use of this technology will be a gradual development as PHRs develop, as people become use to the idea that these reports are possible, as health data becomes more consolidated and cleaner. We use the following analogy to describe the process:

(True Story: http://www.niagarakite.com/history.html) – In 1847 in the United States Charles Ellet was trying to build a suspension bridge over the Niagara Falls gorge. The gorge was 800 feet across and 225 feet deep and the river was very swift. In order to get the suspension cables across the gorge they needed a way across that didn’t involve hiking down, taking the boat across and going back up the other side. So, Mr. Ellet sponsored a kite flying contest to get one thread across the gorge. In 1948 a 15 year old boy got his kite across and won the contest. Mr. Ellet used that single thread to tie ever-increasing gauges of string, rope, wire and ultimately the steel wire cables that supported the bridge.

PointOne has the same approach. We are trying to build the bridge of health data analytics being accessible to everyone. Initially, however, we realize we will need to cast some small threads across and pull ever increasing applications across before we will be able to accomplish our goal in full.

The future of healthcare IT is the analytics. Right now everyone’s focused on the collection, management, movement and protection of health data. That’s an IT exercise. The eventual holy grail of healthcare IT will be the analysis of that data to provide information to the ultimate consumer.

Check out more about it at PointOne.