It’s “Slack for Health Care”- athenaText


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By now it’s not a secret that EMRs are “records” and yet we’ve been trying to cram communication functions down their throat. Meanwhile the hottest tools in enterprise tech are souped up versions of AIM (remember that, you AOL fans?)– with companies like Slack & HipChat providing group-based instant messaging and changing the way teams work. As health care becomes a team sport, you’re going to see many approaches from the major EMR vendors and new entrants in the coming months to fix the communication problem. And yes at Health 2.0 this Fall I’ll be running a full panel on the topic that the Clinical User Experience Sucks–how do we fix it?

This week athenahealth, one of the few big cloud-based players in EMR-land introduced athenaText. (Don’t bother asking why there are no caps in the company name yet the simple word “text” gets a capital T in the middle of the product name! It’s as you’d expect an instant message product (rather than SMS one) but with some differences. For a start it integrates direct into the athenaClincals EMR, but it also pulls in both drug info and physician contacts from the Epocrates product that athenahealth owns (and which has several hundred thousand physicians on it). The goal is to spread the product virally (think Skype or Slack). But first things first. What is it and how does it work? I spoke with VP of UX at athenahealth, Abbe Don, to find out more and to get a demo, which you can see below.

2 replies »

  1. Good news a big player in the industry is working on something similar we are trying to do here in Italy. We started from a very straightforward assumption, patients forget immediately up to 80% of information provided by their doctors. Why don’t we help doctors digitally share visit notes with their patients? Secondly, why don’t we help patients re-share a comment, promptly notified to the doctors who can on turn re-share their point of views, so forth and so on? This will be the best experience for building a safe, open and much clearer digital conversation therefore collaboration.
    Moreover, we discovered Italian wards tend to continuously receive telephone calls from patient being in fact at home, as recently discharged. Doctors seem to pass quite sensitive information over these phone conversations. I’ll let you figure out the clinical risk associated.
    As we pitched our solution to the very first prospect, a 1000-bed hospital, in less than two days we were asked to pilot it in two different divisions. We started from Pediatric Oncology. We, as a company, had no brand equity and no history apart from our personal experience in the field, we are definitely a startup; so to say the problem is there, the doctor-patient communication is a mess and providers are waiting for a solution, no rocket science is needed here.

  2. “By now it’s not a secret that EMRs are “records” and yet we’ve been trying to cram communication functions down their throat.”

    Well, yeah, the RDBMS remains the prevailing paradigm, “dated” and constraining as it may be, but per HIPAA there must be a “record” of any communications (“audit log”) involving a patient’s ePHI, CE, and/or BA. That record has to reflect “who, what, when, about whom” anytime ePHI is created, viewed, edited/updated, deleted, or transmitted.

    Safe to assume athenaText will take this into account?