Allscripts on the Most Exciting Niche in Health IT (And It's Not EHRs)

Allscripts was recently named the top electronic health record vendor for hospitals with more than 300 beds by a user experience survey conducted by Black Book Rankings.

However, EHRs aren't what Allscripts executive Peter McClennen is most excited about.

"Population health and managing populations is by far the most interesting and forward-looking thing across all of health IT," he says. "Most people have already gotten their EHRs and are working through meaningful use and ICD-10 and all that — but they're looking at where to go next. For us, that's population health."

As Allscripts' president for population health, Mr. McClennen's enthusiasm for population health may be expected. However, it's also a frequent topic of conversation in hospitals' C-suites now, as meaningful use and accountable care arrangements increasingly demand hospitals have the ability to monitor the health of the populations they serve. However, population health management is often a point of worry rather than enthusiasm for executives — it ranks among hospital CEO's top concerns, and only 54 percent of CFOs believe their hospital to be ready to take it on.

In response to this growing demand for population health management IT solutions, Allscripts has made significant investments in expanding its offerings. Just more than a year ago, Allscripts made two acquisitions that significantly bolstered its population health offerings. Both dbMotion, system interface and data analytics software that collects patient information from disparate providers into one record, and Jardogs, a patient engagement and personal health record platform, were part of a $500 million total investment in population health management solutions the company undertook in 2013.

These new products, coupled with existing Allscripts offerings, have made population health management tools the primary growth driver at the company, says Mr. McClennen. In the third quarter of 2013, population health management solution sales constituted 40 percent of the company's new business, and in the fourth quarter, it was 42 percent of new business. "That really shows the rapid uptake of these new solutions," he says. "EHRs are still critical and important, but the new solutions are rapidly becoming a key driver."

Allscripts' continued focus on population health management will be marked by an increase in patient monitoring and at-home health technologies, as the company sees this level of personal patient engagement as the foundation of population health management. '"[Population health management is] consumer engagement, connecting with patients, ensuring that they're following their care plans, ensuring they're tightly connected to their physicians in their communities, it's analytics to stratify high-risk patients and ensuring those frequent fliers to the health system are getting the best care management they can get," says Mr. McClennen. "It's all of that.

An Allscripts product debuted at HIMSS' annual conference in Orlando at the end of February exemplifies this focus on population health management through consumer engagement: FollowMyHealth Achieve.

The Achieve solution "marries the modern wearable and home-based devices with the patient and consumer engagement with the care management," says Mr. McClennen. Providers enter at-home care instructions, which are displayed in an online patient portal and can be carried out at home using blood pressure monitors, glucose monitors or other devices that interface with the portal. Data from the devices is then sent to a cloud-based server and integrated with the provider's EHR, and an EHR alert is triggered if any of the information sent by the patient falls outside designated thresholds.  

Mr. McClennen sees the Achieve solution as both a representation of a coming shift in the healthcare delivery paradigm, as well as a tool to help providers through the transition.

"As you fast-forward through time, I think [remote communication] is going to be the dominant way, other than for accidents and significant illnesses like cancer, that people will deal with the doctor," says Mr. McClennen. "For anything that can be done over [videoconferencing], over a cell phone, we probably won't go into the doctor. That whole concept of interrupting your life, getting in a car, waiting when you get there, taking four hours out of your life for all this routine stuff, that's going to dramatically change."

More Articles on Population Health:

The Consequences of Healthcare CIO Overload
10 Key Statistics for Managing Population Health
Health IT Policy Committee Approves Scaled-Back MU3 Recommendations

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