April 21, 2014

Rotary phones. Walkmans. Personal health records. All items that have been relegated to the dustbin of history by new technology. Taking the place of all three, in fact, are smartphones.

Aside from making phone calls and listening to music, the ubiquitous smartphone is also a link to a consumer’s healthcare information. And scores of start-ups are rushing to design the portal that enables the consumer to access that data.

One of those companies is Mana Health, a New York-based startup that beat out 80 other companies to win the right to design the Empire State’s patient portal. Last August, Mana Health was awarded the contract to build the patient portal for the New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC). The company has designed a user interface to connect New Yorkers to the Statewide Health Information Network of New York (SHIN-NY), a secure network for sharing clinical patient data around the state.

‘It’s a patient portal with the patient in mind,” said Chris Bradley, Mana’s CEO and co-founder, who joined executive chairman and co-founder Raj Amin to discuss the company’s goals with mHealth News. “It’s a one-stop shop for healthcare data.”

Bradley and Amin said they “literally took the (prototype of the portal) to the streets of New York City” to gauge consumer responses. Unlike the clunky PHRs of days past, they said they wanted something that a typical consumer would feel comfortable using.

Bradley said Mana Health wants to partner with health information exchanges to bring services to providers much like cable TV offers channels. Such a business plan should prove appealing to payers and providers as well, who can stand back and let Mana Health and the HIX do the heavy lifting.

The model also appealed to the NYeC, which until then had seen only patient portal solutions tied to a specific provider, health system or other such organization.

The Mana Health model “was something that didn’t really exist before,” said Paul Wilder of the NYeC, a not-for-profit organization launched in 2006 that works in partnership with the New York State Department of Health. This, he said, represents “the true democratization of data,” pulling information in regardless of the source and making it available to the consumer.

“New Yorkers do everything else online. It’s imperative that they also be able to access their healthcare data online, whenever they need it,” added the NYeC executive director David Whitlinger in a press release. “This is the most important information a person has about him or herself.”

“We already have all the data. This isn’t your traditional off-the-shelf portal where you have to push stuff into it,” Whitlinger told mHealth News in a separate interview. Such a portal, he said, not only gives consumers access to all their data, but enables the NYeC to keep track of what providers are making available as well.

Mana Health’s model is catching on. Last month, Healthcare Access San Antonio (HASA) selected Mana Health to design its gateway to MyHASA, the first portal in the state, making health records available to some 2 million residents in 22 Texas counties via mobile devices. Features of the site will include proxy access for family members or caregivers, the ability to enter self-reported data, integration with activity tracking devices and a Spanish language option.

“Our goal for MyHASA is to offer a tool that gives the people of this region access to and control over their own health records,” said Gijs van Oort, HASA’a CEO and executive director, in a March 12 release. “By empowering patients with access to their own medical information, they can become more engaged in their personal healthcare.”


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