April 17, 2012
You mentioned that you’re looking at different elements of missing functionality. What areas do you think could be improved that there might be an opportunity for DrFirst?
In the industry today, there are just some structural problems because of the large number of EMRs, EHRs out in the market. We count about 600, of which 250 are our current clients, but we’re broadening our client base now to include EHRs who don’t necessarily want to do e-prescribing with us but would find some of our other platforms valuable. If those 600 EMRs, for instance, want to tap the data analytics market, there are a few very large ones who already have projects under way, but it’s questionable whether some of them are big enough to really do this in a serious way.
We hope to be able to bring things to the market that make it possible for a large number of EMRs to band together and access sources of revenue that wouldn’t otherwise be available to them, whether that’s revenue in the payer space or the pharma space. Help them have access to sophisticated technology.
Let’s say the sophisticated technology is related to patient communications. Things that they may not be able to develop themselves, but would love to have as part of the way they interact with patients. We want to bring those things in. The idea is to create a central point where every EMR in the country can come to get the service they would like to have. And on the other side of that, have a single point of contact for other entities down into the EMR community.
We feel DrFirst is very well positioned to do that by virtue of our track record of success in working with a large number of partners. We’ve clearly shown that we’re a company that can be trusted. We have the best interest of our partners in mind. We just want to continue to bring a series of valuable revenue and technology opportunities to both sides of the equations — to the EHR, EMR, hospitals on the one side, and to payers, pharma, patients, pharmacies, everyone else who would like to tap in to that community on the other side.
I noticed on your site that you have a tool where you can search for EMRs by capabilities. I suppose they are your customers more than the end users, although you can help them create demand for their products. Being in a neutral position supplying a number of them with technologies, how do you see those 600 EMR vendors differentiating themselves as the market evolves?
That was the purpose of that evaluation tool on our website. One of the things that we offer to bring to the EMRs that currently work with us on e-prescribing is that we would be more than happy to be a point of lead generation for them. We talk to physicians all the time through our own sales force. Often, physicians are not looking for e-prescribing or a modular EHR such as we offer. Instead, they’re looking for an EMR. We happily point them to our partners, because we like for them to be successful as well.
If you look through the tool, you can see they’re distinguishing themselves on the basis of specialty focus or functionality, support, certification. We try it to make it possible for them to be able to position themselves however they’d like to position themselves. We try very hard to not play favorites.
As a platform vendor, we would like them all to succeed. We’d like to be that rising tide that lifts all ships. They really do need to pursue their own individual business strategies as well.
If you look down the road five years, where do you see the industry going and what must you do to be competitive?
I think the whole industry will continue to be impacted by Meaningful Use for easily the next five years. We would expect to see a lot of creativity around EHRs going forward. A lot of startups — lots and lots of startups – are still entering the market. People are bringing in new technology to replace old technology. We’re pretty excited about the level of energy that’s still going in to this market.
I’m very encouraged by the direction the ONC is taking. They seem to be stepping back a little from a very onerous “one way fits all” strategy and instead are making room for people to do similar things, but in different ways. We think that’s very positive.
We as a company would really like five years from now to be a part of more than half of the EMRs– hopefully 75% of the EMRs offering one or more of our platforms. Helping them be successful in this space.
We really embrace the fact that there are such a large number of EHRs because it shows that no one’s quite yet figured out exactly how do healthcare IT right. There’s room for lots of differences of opinion. We’d like to help them all be successful at driving the business the way they want to drive it.
I get asked a lot about who our competitors are. It’s very difficult, I think, to find another company in this space that sees it quite the way we do. It is an interesting task trying to find a way to stay neutral, but yet help people really feel that you care about what happens to them as a business. But it’s a lot of fun seeing so many creative, smart people trying to figure out ways to do things better than other people. It’s been really great to have an opportunity to work with so many of them and be a little part of what they do.