Exploring Web-Based EHRs: An Interview with PracticeFusion Co-Founder Ryan Howard

Health Tech | Interview by Shiv Gaglani

PracticeFusion is a leading digital health company that makes a free web-based electronic health record system used by over 100,000 physicians. We had the opportunity to speak with its CEO and co-founder, Ryan Howard, about the company and one of its more recent products, Insight, which allows physicians to delve into patient records to analyze trends in their patient population.

Why did you create PracticeFusion?

I created PracticeFusion in 2005 with the idea that technology should be used to help doctors manage medical records and ultimately save lives. A person sees an average of 19 doctors in a lifetime. Nearly 200,000 people die each year as a result of their cumulative medical information not being available to their providers.

For me, the answer lay in cloud computing. PracticeFusion is a free, cloud-based electronic health record (EHR) platform that’s used by 112,000 medical professionals to manage more than 91 million patient records. Because the software is in the cloud, doctors don’t have to worry about buying and waiting for software updates. Users can trust us to manage their software so that they can focus on doing what they do best: delivering quality patient care. We deliver this at no cost to our users, so we’re also making it easy for doctors to pocket their Meaningful Use dollars (PracticeFusion is MU2 certified).

How many physicians use PracticeFusion? Specifically, how many cardiologists do you have on the platform?

There are more than 112,000 medical professionals that use the PracticeFusion EHR. Today, PracticeFusion has more than 1,000 cardiologists–or 5% of the total market–using the platform. In fact, cardiology is one of the top 10 specialties on the platform.

Can you describe how cardiologists are using the platform?

Cardiologists use the platform much like our other medical professionals use the platform. They use the platform to manage every step of the patient visit, including booking the appointment, the clinical visit, orders for prescriptions and labs, and referrals to specialists.

What are your goals for the next year? Next 5 years?

My vision for PracticeFusion is to reach and serve every patient in the US by 2020. We’ve reached over 91 million patient records on the platform in 2014, which makes us the largest physician-patient platform in the country. We’d like to use the next 5 years to scale that number significantly.

PracticeFusion collects a tremendous amount of data - can you share any interesting insights, especially as related to cardiovascular health?

According to Insight by PracticeFusion, hypertensive disorder is the number one diagnosis on the platform, with 27.3% of visits including a patient with this diagnosis.

For heart failure (HF)–a diagnosis of interest to cardiologists–Insight shows us the following information: Out of every 100 patient visits, our users have two patients with HF. You’ll see in the screenshot below, patients that are diagnosed with HF:

  • Skew older
  • Have higher BMI
  • Are likely to be male

What is your background in medicine/technology?

My passion for transforming healthcare started when I was working at Brown & Toland, where I developed the overall HIPAA implementation strategy for the company’s community of 1,500 physicians, CMS connections, clearinghouses, and insurance payers. I witnessed the vastly disorganized patient billing and health records systems and felt the need for a secure and powerful cloud-based solution. Since then, I’ve worked nonstop to make that cloud-based solution a reality.

Shiv Gaglani is an MD/MBA candidate at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Harvard Business School. He writes about trends in medicine and technology and has had his work published in Medgadget, The Atlantic, and Emergency Physicians Monthly.

Keywords: ACC Publications, CardioSource WorldNews

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