Interview – PatientKeeper CEO Paul Brient

I’d like to thank Paul Brient, CEO of PatientKeeper, for his time discussing his company as well as his insights into mobile strategies and adoption in healthcare.  Below I’ve tried to summarize the key points, but in the future, I plan to have interviews transcribed.  Also, for those interested, PatientKeeper will be at HIMSS next week – Booth #5543.


Paul told me that PatienKeeper was founded 11 years ago, before he joined the company, with the premise that mobile was THE solution necessary to drive physician adoption of information technology, and the lack of mobile solutions represented the major barrier to adoption. Since then, with Paul joining the company over eight years ago, the thinking at PatientKeeper has changed to view mobile as an important companion point of access, but not a solution unto itself.

Paul stated that the fundamental offerings of PatientKeeper are the 13 components they have developed to automate and improve physician workflow. As an example, CPOE is a component offered by PatientKeeper and will now be available on mobile devices, as well as via PatientKeeper’s Web portal. Paul compared the PatientKeeper components to e-mail, which can be accessed over mobile as well as other types of access points.

PatientKeeper has over 26,000 clinical users, a number that impressed me. I later found out they have some very big clients, like HCA, which make 26,000 very realistic. Of those 26,000, about 50% are using PatientKeeper-enabled mobile devices. Paul predicts, as most people in the industry, that this percentage will increase as more physicians acquire mobile devices and more tools are provided via mobile.

Until now, clinical results delivery and charge capture have been the big drivers for mobile adoption by PatientKeeper users. The other PatientKeeper services that are offered via mobile are Provider Directory and Sign-Out. The provider directory doesn’t sound very glamorous, but Paul said clinicians love it because they have one repository for colleague contact information, with one-button calling enabled.

Mobile Sign-Out by PatientKeeper is an asynchronous handoff of texts and structured tasks geared towards hospitalists or residents in training. When a clinician gets back to the hospital, they can check which tasks have been completed and also catch up on notes from supervising docs. PatientKeeper is in use at 40 academic centers and about 50% use the sign-out system, which to me seems optimized for mobile.

On the horizon for PatientKeeper is CPOE, a brand new mobile-enabled service that Paul thinks will be a big hit. Going beyond records access to order entry is a big step that most observers agree will be a driver of mobile adoption amongst clinicians.  Until recently, PatientKeeper did not offer or plan to offer mobile image viewing because mobile device screens have been too small to make it useful. Tablets are changing that and PatientKeeper is exploring mobile image viewing as well as mobile charting options. The goal is for the whole experience, whether mobile or other form of access, to be seamless.

The other side of mobile uptake or adoption is the hardware itself. Paul said some people used Palm back in the day when it was the only option. When the Treo came along, the number of mobile users grew. Mobile usage seems to increase with each round of new devices. All the new mobile hardware technology is helping to drive mobile adoption.

PK Mobile Results1

We then moved on to PatientKeeper’s HIE strategy and experience. The PatientKeeper HIE Strategy is not focused on large, state level HIEs. They have a Connecting the Community campaign that seeks to connect local hospitals into localized, integrated care systems. It started in Ocala, FL because PatientKeeper was in use by several of the hospitals in the area and they decided to connect to each other in a localized HIE. PatientKeeper has done similar work in Cedar Rapids, Iowa as well. In terms of mobile offerings for HIEs, PatientKeeper is increasingly bundling its systems so that mobile is always a part of the offering. They do not see mobile as a specific line item.

Paul said it’s impossible to predict what the future will bring, but Apple is killing everything else right now. Echoing many of the reports recently issued on mobile hardware in healthcare, Paul says iPhone and iPad usage is increasing more and more, becoming the dominant force in mobile healthcare, while Android is the up and comer. He sees BlackBerry as a waning platform that is primarily used by larger employed physician groups.

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