AirStrip Goes Beyond Mobile

I love mobile health. I get asked about it a lot, even in social settings, because people are curious to learn about examples of mobile apps. It’s a fast-growing industry, projected to grow by anywhere from about 16 to 26 percent depending on the research you read and believe.

I also get asked about the biggest players in mobile health. Epocrates always seems to come up, especially if I’m with physicians. Another example I often give when asked about companies with the most early success or used the most widely is AirStrip. AirStrip was very early in freeing up data from medical devices, initially focused on OB and fetal monitoring during labor. It then expanded to cardiology (EKGs) and eventually more broadly into a huge range of patient monitoring devices.

Last year AirStrip moved beyond medical devices to include EHR data, launching the AirStrip One Platform. The goal of AirStrip One is to free all clinical data across disparate systems (EHR, med devices, imaging, etc.), providing a unified and rather pleasant user experience.

Until earlier this summer, AirStrip had been focused on mobile devices (tablet and smartphone) running on iOS, Android, and RIM. In June, AirStrip announced that it was the first mobile health company that would build apps as part of the Microsoft AppsForSurface Program.

Interestingly, AirStrip is creating apps not just for Surface Tablets, but also for Microsoft laptops and desktops. This makes total sense from a business and product perspective, as (a) mobile and web are converging; (b) users want a unified experience; (c) Microsoft owns the enterprise market; and (d) 70 percent of clinician activity is done on a desktop or laptop.


I was curious about all of this and was able to finally catch up with AirStrip CEO Alan Portela. It affirmed for me that AirStrip continues to have success meeting industry trends and in its push to be the major platform for clinical data access.

AirStrip has been multi-platform, but those have been mobile-only to date. In working with providers and looking at specific use cases and workflows, it became clear that AirStrip would need to support all form factors, hence the early move into the Microsoft Surface program and the porting of AirStrip to both Windows mobile devices as as well desktops and laptops.

The official release of the Microsoft apps will be at Health 2.0 in about four weeks. As an aside, I’m impressed with Health 2.0 as the venue for AirStrip to do this. Health 2.0 has a reputation for not being integrated with the mainstream health IT industry. Whether this was the case or not, I don’t think it is any more.

I asked Alan about support from Microsoft, as I’ve been told that Microsoft is willing to provide help to bring app developers over. We’ve been thinking of creating tools for Surface. The Microsoft interest and willingness to help has been pretty amazing. Alan said the support from Microsoft has been incredible, and Intel was also involved and helpful in the process.

Alan mention that people have told him AirStrip is becoming the Epic of mobile health. Alan said he knows Judy Faulkner and considers it a compliment. I agree that from a market position perspective, both companies are seen as market leaders.

However, when I think of AirStrip, I think of user experience and AirStrip presenting at early Apple iOS events. I think the company still does some of the invite-only healthcare events with Apple. Alan told me that AirStrip continues to build native apps because they just can’t give the same experience using HTML5 and non-native, citing specifically examples like zooming and aspect ratios for medical data.

When I think of Epic, I don’t think of user experience and I don’t think of mobile. I don’t think of experience or mobile with other large enterprise EHR vendors either. That’s the opportunity that AirStrip is going after with its mobile platform and experience for clinical data, including EHR data.

Second, when I think of AirStrip, I think of modern technology: iOS and Android and now Surface. It’s the bonus of building for mobile and having modern apps be the window the world has to AirStrip. When I think of Epic, I think of older architectures and technologies which aren’t exactly flexible and certainly aren’t sexy like touch technologies.

Third, when I think of Epic, I think of silos that have to be pried open — many times painfully and expensively — one at a time with the support and advocacy of a customer champion. Alan made it clear that AirStrip wants to be the front-end bridge to hide these silos from end users. As more and more health systems and hospitals consolidate, organizations are forced to consolidate silos for end user access. They also need to consolidate data for analytics and population health. AirStrip wants to be the platform to unify the experience for clinicians.

Alan talked about helping consolidated systems leverage existing systems and investments, unifying and optimizing the experience for users in the process. This goes back to AirStrip being available on all form factors, including Windows desktops and laptops. He said that AirStrip is working with individual organizations that now, because of rollups and consolidation, support Meditech, Epic, Cerner, Allscripts, and McKesson.

What’s next for AirStrip? Alan mentioned more big partner announcements coming in the near future. I’m not surprised. AirStrip is out ahead in the market and I know they get approached by a lot of interested potential partners. 

I’ve included AirStrip in my last several yearly prediction posts because I think its timing is great. I’m waiting to see a real competitor for AirStrip emerge. Are there any out there or on the horizon? Do you think AirStrip can pull off being the front end on top of our consolidation-driven health systems?



Travis Good is an MD/MBA involved with health IT startups. More about me.

  • mobilemike

    PatientKeeper has been aggregating and delivering mobile health data for more than 5 years and has evolved to include the ability to take action on the data via mobile CPOE… you should check them out

  • Mobile Man

    I think the biggest issue here is what I call the “event response” – i.e. when they get access to this consolidated data, what are they going to do with that info? Most likely they’ll want to “do” something that involves having to go back into the originating “EMR”. This is where the EMR vendors “have you”… You may be able to get data out, but typically you have to be natively within their system to “enter data” (orders, notes, documentation, etc.) right?

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