Lack of interoperability — the seamless flow of healthcare information between disparate devices and IT systems — continues to be a barrier to reaping the most value from electronic medical records and mobile health applications.
In a recent survey by KPMG, 38% of healthcare CIOs cited optimizing electronic medical records (EMRs) as their chief investment priority.
The finding underscores the need for better interoperability. Minneapolis-based health IT startup Sansoro Health launched in 2014 after seeing an "opportunity to create a whole new approach to EMR integration and solving interoperability," said co-founder and CEO Jeremy Pierotti. The company's goal is to "bring the same technology that powers the rest of the digital economy to healthcare," Pierotti added.
It recently raised $5.2 million in Series A funds, led by Bain Capital Ventures. Pierotti spoke to Healthcare Dive about how the company is cracking the interoperability nut to free up the exchange of health data and why.
Healthcare Dive: Interoperability has been seen as a conundrum for many healthcare organizations. Why is it so important to solve this issue?
Jeremy Pierotti, co-founder and CEO of Sansoro Health: We’re counting on innovation to drive down costs and to allow us to deliver better quality outcomes for patients. Innovation can be an important contributor to that, but it will require the free and efficient exchange of data, securely, between different software systems.
I think interoperability has proven to be a conundrum for two reasons. One, our health records are really complicated. We’re talking about the most complicated data set that most of us deal with on any given day — how to describe the human body and everything that can go wrong with it.
The other reason that interoperability has proven to be a conundrum is that these systems were never really built from the ground up to exchange data freely and efficiently. It requires new solutions to enable the efficient exchange of data between different healthcare information technology.
Companies are attempting to bring down barriers to interoperability in different ways. What distinguishes Sansoro from other businesses in this space in terms of how you’re trying to solve this problem?
Pierotti: We enable the efficient exchange of data between applications without creating a new middle data lake. We’re not copying data into a new data repository in order for it to be exchanged. We are exchanging data directly between the production database of one system and the production database of another piece of software.
By doing that, we’re able to scale very quickly. We put a great deal of time and effort into making sure that our software installs very quickly and requires very little maintenance by our customers. We’re secure because we’re not creating extra copies that aren’t needed, and we are always exchanging data between the sources of truth, the production databases.
More and more care providers have been expressing concerns with how time consuming their administrative tasks as this results in less face time with patients. How easy would it be to scale up for providers? Is there good return on investment?
Pierotti: It’s very easy to scale up because the installation at a provider is a streamlined configuration of their EMR and we have that all scripted. It usually takes a day or less to complete that implementation.
A customer of ours that is a really innovative healthcare software company that does real-time clinical analytics, clinical surveillance, reports that it used to take them six to nine months to get all of the data feed set up with a new customer, and they can now install in less than a month. Another one of our customers, a CIO of that customer, told me we saved him millions of dollars compared to his next-best alternative as he was looking to integrate data from one EMR into another EMR.
So there’s been really great return on investment, and the ability to scale quickly and install quickly helps everybody. It helps digital health companies to get their solutions installed and working faster. It helps providers that obviously have decided to license other applications for a good reason and want those applications working as fast as they can so they start seeing better results in patient care sooner.
Sansoro markets its middleware product to both provider organizations and software vendors. Who are some of your customers and how do they use Sansoro's software?
Pierotti: One of our customers that we actually presented with at HIMSS this year is Tampa General Hospital, and we presented on a really great implementation that has been in place now for 15 months. Tampa General needed to be able to get data from one EMR and make it visible in their new primary EMR, so they used our software, Emissary, as a bridge to do that. The result is that hundreds of times a day providers are looking for data from the other EMR and getting it without having to leave the primary window that they work in day in and day out.
Another customer of ours is a real-time clinical analytics company that uses our software to get vital signs and medication administration history and lab results on an as-needed basis to identify patients who are at risk of onset of sepsis. They use that information to help hospitals implement better antibiotic stewardship programs and infection prevention programs.
We’re also doing some work on scheduling and prior authorization and referral management. So we’re working with customers on the revenue cycle side of the house as well.
Sansoro received funds from TreeHouse Health and angel investors in addition to the investment from Bain Capital Ventures on Thursday. How do you plan to use these investments in the company?
Pierotti: We’ll be growing our company across the board, investing in an expanded sales team and an expanded marketing team. I’m old enough to remember that VHS beat Betamax — they had the best technology, but did not have the best distribution.
We want to be sure that we’re able to get to broad scale distribution as quickly as possible. We’ll also be investing in some new functionalities — support of additional EMR platforms and building out really innovative data exchange functionality that is unique to our solution.