This is the transcript from the podcast with Bob Lorsch at mymedicalrecords.com. You’ll note that at the end Bob offers you a free trial of his system by going to the site, www.MyMedicalRecords.com and sign up for an account, putting in promotion code "TryMMR". You’ll receive a 90 day free account and you can find out for yourself and get your own phone number and your own lifeline. If you want to listen to the audio, that podcast is here. For the words, and a little fesitiness (but not alot) about whether his model and his company has a shot, read on.
Matthew: Bob Lorsch is the chairman and CEO and founder of MyMedicalRecords.com. We had quite an interesting discussion yesterday. MyMedicalRecords.com is a personal health record company that has what I’ve described as pretty much the standalone model. Any reader of the blog knows that I’ve been pretty negative about the prospects for that kind of thing, and we had a rather interesting discussion. I thought we’d continue online today. So Bob, thanks for chatting with me.
Bob Lorsch: Hey, it’s my pleasure to be here. I’m looking forward to making you a believer.
Matthew: Right. So, let me get to the heart of the matter. Correct me if I’m wrong, MyMedicalRecords.com is what I would call primarily a sort of vault system where it’s got a very sophisticated way of allowing people to fax in information and submit information which it then stores in kind of a templated document management fashion. Is that roughly accurate?
Bob: It’s roughly accurate, yeah. I would describe it more as a fully functional online life storage system. Founded because of the boom in electronic medical records, but it’s really the kind of a product that will store medical records, insurance information, financial information, advanced directives, any document or information that would be necessary to an individual in an emergency from anywhere in the world, seven days a week, 24 hours a day over any Internet‑connected computer. The unique thing about MyMedicalRecords is it works off dumbed‑down existing technologies. For example, it doesn’t require interface with an EMR system. An individual who cares about their health or cares about their medical record storage can have a MyMedicalRecords account and with a fax machine and a plain old ordinary Internet connection, they can have a complete document management network of patient charts, X‑rays, film, important documents, advanced directives, wills, policies, whatever information they want to have online.
Matthew: Now that’s really the crux of the matter here. I’ve always argued that in the personal heath records space—and we’re obviously talking about a business which has yet to take off—In the personal health records space it’s going to become more like online banking. People are going to essentially get information that’s already in the system and just use their personal health records as a vehicle with which to view it. If people could watch, say, what WebMD is doing, or where Intuit is going, all they’re discussing is basically a product that’s attached to a large health plan or provider system, which is also what the companies are using Epic are doing. You know, it’s a view into other data.So you’re taking a very different approach and obviously it has yet to be resolved as to which one works.
Why do you think people would actually go the trouble of doing all that when they could get to their health plan or go to their provider at some point? Most of them are going to be offering a personal health record where they can view most of their information there, rather than why would they go to a standalone entity which they’re going to have to go to the trouble of inputting their own data and collecting information and then sending it in?
Well, I think you brought up the perfect example that validates and
justifies our product, and that’s online banking. Yes, when the online
banking revolution started, it was a look into what was going on in
your accounts: what checks cleared, how much money do I have, what’s
going on in my world of personal finance. But then all of a sudden
you’ve got electronic bill‑pay. You’ve got electronic tax preparation.
You’ve got electronic financial management. You’ve got electronic
portfolio management, which is linked to, in many cases, your e‑banking
account.The fact that I pay Merrill Lynch a mortgage payment or
the fact that I have an American Express card that’s gold, two
MasterCards, and a Visa card and three car payments. That stuff didn’t
just get sucked out of the universe. The user had to take advantage of
the platform that was constructed and the electronic banking universe
and add to it. Their financial portfolios, the stocks they own, the
funds they own, that information didn’t magically appear when they
opened an e‑banking account. That information had to be put into that
e‑banking account or linked to the e‑banking account.So my
argument would be, to use your words, why would it be any different for
somebody who cares about their health? The fact of the matter is that
the other personal health records that are out there are simply a look
into the information that we already know. When we go to a doctor, and
a doctor gets a payment, we get a copy. When we deal with an insurance
company, and the insurance company wants to process a claim, they’re
going to get payer information that is basically a bunch of boxes that
are checked that they have preassigned price values to. But if that
doctor sits with you and cares about you and draws pictures and writes
handwritten notes and takes the time to explain something to you and
puts information into your chart as he’s explaining something to you,
you have no way of getting that into your electronic medical record
file through your payer. MyMedicalRecords solves that problem.
Let’s talk about the likely out-take of that, because I’ve always
assumed that the people who are going to use medical records are going
to be people who are going to be kind of organizing their, not so much
their clinical information. There will be some clinical information
online, but not that much. As we know, most doctors still aren’t using
electronic medical records and won’t be for some time.So for the vast
majority of physicians, people who are visiting physicians who are
getting handwritten charts and kinds of information and that kind of
stuff, who are the people do you think are likely to use a service like
MyMedicalRecords.com and actually be faxing and inputting their
information and storing it, you know, using it as a document management
system. What kind of people are you expecting to be using this, and
what do you think the sort of bleeding edge applications and demands
are going to be?
Well, there’s really two groups. The biggest group is the group who
has been using products like MedicAlert where you’re wearing a
bracelet, or you’re wearing some medical ID and you’re concerned about
the fact that you may be allergic to bee stings or that you may be
allergic to peanuts, or that you may have diabetes or that you may have
a blood pressure problem, or that you may have a particular disease
that in the event of an emergency somebody has to know about the fact
that you have that disease, otherwise if treatment is not diagnosed
properly, the patient could die.In my case, I’m a thyroid
cancer survivor, so I have no thyroid. If I was sick and I was
unconscious and somebody didn’t know that in some form of information,
and I didn’t get thyroid medication, I don’t know what the consequences
would be, but they would not be pretty. So, the MedicAlert audience or
people who are already spending as much as $40 a year for online or
live telephone support to their medical records management in the event
of an emergency clearly is one group that we’re very very focused upon.
As a result, we have a strategic partnership with MedicAlert where they
market a product that is built by MyMedicalRecords for Medic Alert
called MedicAlert Gold.The second area are people that have
really had significant events. Unfortunately, MyMedicalRecords is a
product that people don’t wake up in the morning and say, "You know,
I’m going to build my personal medical file." They talk about it. They
sit in the kitchen the night before, and they look at the boxes of
information and photos and documents that if there was a fire or other
disaster they wouldn’t know what to do with. But then for whatever
reason our own human nature sets in and we don’t go out of our way to
create a result until something happens. So we find that a significant
part of our market comes from people who unfortunately have had a major
illness or a family member major illness or a major disaster or they’re
caring for an elder person or a loved one and they just need a
management system to store or handle the volumes of information that
comes from doctors or clinicians.Matthew: I think you’re
right. That’s probably, I would guess, some event that makes that
happen. I know, personally, I bought for my own personal use I bought a
safe after Katrina. Around me I noticed I didn’t have any way of
storing things; I had stuff laying around in drawers. What happens if
the place burns down? I live in a major earthquake zone. Now that I
think about it I’m not sure my safe would recover from an earthquake.
It’s quite interesting that storage concept. Are you thinking of
linking? I like the MedicAlert link. That is the counter argument to my
You can’t argue with Medic Alert’s success. They’ve been in business
50 years. They have two million subscribers paying in the U.S.
They have four million subscribers worldwide. They are a remarkable
company and they dispel the myth that medical records are a non‑product.
I’m with you on that. Tell me a bit about your strategies. Is it to
work with them? Where are you? You launched last year. How many
subscribers do you have and how many come via MedicAlert?
The company markets its product primarily through groups of employers,
associations, and unions, so we have organizations with memberships
that eclipse the 10 million mark. Those organizations pay monthly fees,
much like a group insurance plan would be paid for by an employer or
association. For that fee, the members of that organization are allowed
to go to the website, put in a promotion code and open an account.
Matthew: How many accounts do you have currently? How many members using the system?
Many, many thousands. The company was founded in the first quarter of
2005. We did not release our product until the first quarter of 2006.
Since then we’ve entered into contracts with these "affinity business"
organizations with access to over 10 million members and we have many,
many thousands of people that are actively using the product. In fact,
in a typical organization over the course of the first 30 days,
depending on the number of employees that are in the organization, we
will see between eight and nine percent of the organization sign up for
the account and begin to load information into their account.
That’s a pretty decent statistic, because even some of the staff HMOs
using the Epic MyHealth system have got only 20 to 30 percent of their
members actively using it and they don’t have to do anything. They just
have to look in, so that’s quite interesting.
I think in United Healthcare there’s a gentleman who gave a speech,
one of the executives from United, and he was talking about the fact
that United, which has tens of millions of members has a personal
health record that can be accessed by every single member and as of
last year less than 20, 000 had ever looked at their personal health
record out of tens of millions.
Which actually says something about what they have on their site and
why they’re working with Intuit as well. But you’re right, health
plans, in my opinion, have been incredibly slow to take advantage of
this because I think they’re risking losing their members because it’s
a great amount of information they have. They should be sharing it with
them, and I don’t think they’re doing a good job so far, but they seem
to be working on it.
The other thing that United made a comment about, which I think is
awful, is an individual takes all their time and energy to build their
personal health record and understand the technology that a company
like United gives them and then all of a sudden their employer changes
plans, they leave United, and guess what? They can’t take their
personal health record. They’ve got to print the information down and
start all over again. MyMedicalRecords bypasses that. Our product will
work with any organization and with any kind of a document, file
upload, any kind of image you want to put in it and it doesn’t matter
who your employer or who your health plan manager is.
That’s actually a key point. I asked the folks at Kaiser‑if I was
using their health record, which is basically Epic system, and I wanted
to move to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and change my health plan,
and Palo-Alto also has the Epic system, and also has the personal
health record; could I just move my information over? I got a lot of
coughing and chaffing of feet and discussions about, "well, the
database isn’t quite ready yet, " and "we’re planning it, " and the
rest of it. The health plans have said they’re going to do
interoperability of the personal health records, but aren’t quite there
yet. I think it’s interesting that you’ve started the company, as you
were telling me last night, as more of a passion than a straight
business venture, but obviously you’re looking to make a serious
business out of it as well. What are your plans with MyMedicalRecords?
Can you talk about how much has been invested so far and where you
think the company is going as a business?
The company has currently spent in building its business and
developing its product approximately $7million and we currently are
doing some private financing rounds. We’re doing a series B round where
we will raise another, approximately, $7 to eight million. We’re hoping
that the company will be cash flow positive by the end of 2007. Based
on the trend lines that we’re seeing, that is a very real possibility.
Matthew: So the main cash flow is either from individual subscribers or the permanent per month fee paid by the group customers?
The majority of our revenue will come from affiliate members and group
membership plans, like unions, employers and associations.
Very interesting. I’ve been talking to Bob Lorsch, who is the CEO of
MyMedicalRecords.com. It’s a stand alone vault‑like system.
Bob: I thought there was supposed to be an argument.
We’ve been arguing enough. What you’ve done is put up a very robust
defense of why somebody would require a stand alone system. The answer
is, so far, there’s been about 200 companies that have developed
personal health records. Nobody has ever made any money out of it.
Nobody has ever got any traction. The argument is if you don’t have all
the population data from somewhere else, people are going to be too
lazy to put the stuff in themselves and they just won’t do it. You’re
counter argument is:
We have auto‑population, for all intents and purposes. In our
situation, somebody goes to the doctor or walks by a fax machine, faxes
the document to their personal lifeline number, it’s digitized and
encrypted, converted to a PDF document and is available online in
seconds. There’s no special software, hardware or whatever, and
candidly, if you don’t mind, let your readers and listeners be their
own choice by going to the site, MyMedicalRecords.com and sign up for
an account, putting in promotion code "TryMMR". You’ll received a 90
day free account and you can find out for yourself with your own phone
number and your own lifeline. Find out for yourself.
That’s a good offer for people on the blog to go out and take a look
and see if you think it might make sense for you. Thanks a lot. Sorry
we haven’t been arguing enough.
Bob: How did you get that funny accent? Did you just invent that for purposes of the interviews?
Matthew: Yes, I bought it in a store in Texas. I had a real Texas twang, actually, but I thought that wouldn’t do so well for the radio show.
Bob: It’s a great accent. It really works for you.