Today venerable health content creator Healthwise merged with the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation which was previously funded by (and had an exclusive relationship up until last month with) Health Dialog. I asked Healthwise CEO–and old friend of Health 2.0–Don Kemper what was happening and what it meant. I also snuck in a smidgen of snark about a conference we worked on together five years ago.–Matthew Holt
Matthew: Don, you’re merging Healthwise with the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation. So I know the two organizations are both non-profits but as a poorly informed outsider I always thought of you as rival content creators, with Healthwise selling your content and services to insurers and providers and Informed Medical Decisions being funded by Health Dialog which then got to use and sell the content and decision support aids it created to its customers. Am I wrong?
Don: You aren’t completely wrong—but then not overly well informed either. We have always thought of ourselves as sister organizations rather than rivals. We have collaborated well in advocacy efforts to promote the role of the patient. Health Dialog has had a near exclusive relationship with the Foundation until recently. Health Dialog has been a long-term client of Healthwise, too—just not an exclusive one. When the restructured Health Dialog-Foundation relationship dropped the exclusivity requirement it allowed us to proceed with the merger discussions.
Matthew: Now that change occurred for Informed Medical Decisions and you two can merge, what do they have that Healthwise hasn’t got, and vice versa?
Don: The Foundation has three things that will add greatly to the Healthwise mission:
1. Medical Evidence—Their assessment of medical evidence in key areas goes deeper than we have been able to go. Whereas we have often waited for treatment guidelines to change before reflecting the changes in our content, their medical editors are often involved in making the guideline changes. Getting that information into the patient’s hands six months earlier could make a life or death difference.
2. Value Demonstration—The Foundation has developed research relationships with many health services researchers around the country. By setting up and evaluating demonstration sites for shared decision making (SDM) they have proven how SDM improves decision quality and reduces the use of expensive but preference-sensitive treatments.
3. Practice Change Management—The Foundation has gained a great deal of experience in helping clinicians build SDM into their workflow. Those learnings will help as we integrate patient engagement into the mainstream of care.
What they get from us is “reach.” People now turn to our information, tools and solutions over 340 times a minute. (180 million times a year). Fifteen percent of US physicians can now prescribe Healthwise patient instructions through their EMRs.
Healthwise has invested heavily in the technology needed to integrate into EMRs and has excelled at building broad-based solutions that fit within a health plan’s or health system’s workflow. It would have been hard for the Foundation to have matched that without us.
Matthew: So how will this actually work. How many people do you have, how many do they? Who gets to keep their jobs? Is this a real merger or a takeover?
Don: This is a merger made in heaven. No one will be out of work. Continue reading…