AirStrip’s New Mobile EMR Enhancer 6/14/12

AirStrip is making a big announcement later this week as it continues to expand its place as the leading mobile clinical platform. Starting this week, AirStrip will expand its mobile monitoring platform with the addition of mobile EMR access, initially with integration to Cerner and the VA’s VistA.

I spoke with AirStrip CEO Alan Portela about it last week ahead of the press release. Alan has been the CEO for the past 18 months. I’d not met or spoken with him, so it was nice to get his perspective on how this platform expansion represents a very intentional strategy by AirStrip.

To start, Alan wanted to provide some background and context. AirStrip’s goal is to be the "mobile enabler of care… mobilizing medical data across the continuum of care, starting with the ambulance." He described how AirStrip saw the mobile EMR opportunity a couple of years ago, but thought it was too early in the market. Instead, the company chose to focus on mobilizing medical devices, something it has done in cardiology, and more recently, with patient monitoring.

If you break down the AirStrip strategy into three phases, the first is medical device data mobilization, the second is mobile EMR, and the last is in-home monitoring. AirStrip is out ahead in cardiology and OB (and more recently ICU monitoring) in terms of medical device data mobilization. Now it’s launching Phase 2 with "mobile EMR enhancement" that expands the value of its mobile platform considerably in the process. AirStrip feels the market is ready and mobile is going to be increasingly essential.

Below are screenshots* of both the Android and iPad version of the new AirStrip mobile EMR app.

There were a couple of things that Alan said repeatedly that indicate what AirStrip is doing with this platform enhancement and why clinicians, heath systems, and EMR vendors should care.

The first is that AirStrip is now a "mobile EMR enhancer." For vendors, this means that AirStrip is going to try to put a prettier face on your EMR. Since AirStrip wants to own the mobile experience, it is not competing with EMRs, but rather extending their functionality (and, I’m betting, making their users happier.) I think this would add value to a lot of EMRs that aren’t known for their great user experience.

The second thing he repeated several times is that AirStrip is "native." This is not a virtual desktop environment where users access EMRs using 9-inch screens to view desktop screen layouts meant to be used on 19+ inch screens. It also means that AirStrip can use all of the cool touch functionality that people enjoy so much about touch devices. Additionally, native apps should be more responsive. For users, this will mean a better experience. EMR vendors can and will create their own native mobile EMR apps, but will that limit them from also enabling AirStrip as a mobile front-end?

The third thing Alan said is that AirStrip is "neutral." AirStrip is vendor agnostic, which is of particular value to a clinician or health system with multiple EMR platforms(a use case Alan mentioned to me as becoming increasingly relevant as systems consolidate.) Taking data from multiple EMR sources and providing a unified view, especially over mobile, is extremely valuable. AirStrip supports Cerner Millennium and VistA today, but I’m sure we’ll see more EMRs added in the near future. With HCA as a strategic investor in AirStrip, I wonder if we’ll see Meditech (or some subset of versions of Meditech) join the list? As more systems try to move to private HIEs with unified health records, AirStrip will have to differentiate by a enabling better mobile experience, as unified data views won’t be unique.

The technology behind AirStrip’s mobile EMR was developed at Palomar Pomerado Health in California and was originally called Medical Information, Anytime, Anywhere (MIAA). Alan saw MIAA last year at HIMSS 2011 and AirStrip began discussions with Palomar shortly thereafter. AirStrip has the exclusive license to the technology and can build upon it.

The initial mobile EMR release does not integrate with AirStrip’s other mobile offerings for medical device data (EKG, OB, patient monitoring), but this is in the works. The GUI is that of MIAA, which Alan told me has already been validated by physicians, so why change it? According to the release, current functionality includes:

  • Full native mobile application experience with gesture touch-based screen navigation;
  • Consolidated patient summary to facilitate rapid on-the-go review of critical patient information;
  • Real-time access to clinical information including problems, allergies, medications, laboratory results, medical images, clinical documentation, vital signs, and more;
  • Mobilization of health information exchange transactions — such as the dynamic generation of Continuity of Care Documents (CCD) from electronic patient record systems — and interoperability with NwHIN (Nationwide Health Information Network) DIRECT;
  • Cross-organizational view of patient information to facilitate integrated care coordination, providing support for emerging accountable care organizations and the medical home;
  • Vendor-independent mobile computing platform with real-time access to multiple vendor electronic health record systems, such as the Veterans Administration’s CPRS/VistA and Cerner Millennium, with more being planned;
  • Immersive mobile care team collaboration via clinical context messaging, video, and voice integration (Cisco was an early partner on the platform).

AirStrip is creating a national group of clinical leaders to help refine and expand the mobile EMR platform. Initially only providing read access to data, AirStrip has plans to add interactive features, with order entry being the most obvious first route. Writing data back to some EMRs might be a nightmare, so we’ll have to see if that happens. I asked Alan about this and he said, "We feel feel confident that vendors will see the value of collaborating with us to enhance physician utilization of their products.”

Now that AirStrip is close to unifying its Phase 1 and Phase 2 (devices and EMRs), when does Phase 3 (home monitoring) come into play? I imagine it will be fairly soon via Qualcomm’s 2net platform. AirStrip leverages GE monitors for EKG and patient monitoring on the inpatient side, so AirStrip will likely leverage 2net as a data source for home monitoring patients.

I had seen mobile EMR as a natural extension for AirStrip, so it’s good to see the formal announcement and rollout. I even mentioned it in my HIMSS write-up from February: "I’m waiting for AirStrip to start offering mobile EMR views." AirStrip has a great user experience and clinicians like it, two things that are not easy to do in healthcare and with clinicians. That’s why I think this is potentially a big announcement.

I’m curious to see what health systems and EMRs come on board over the next 6-12 months and how this is received by clinicians.

*Screen images are simulated.

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

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