A product pegged as an up-and-comer last September just popped back up on the radar, winning the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' "Ensuring Safe Transitions from Hospital to Home" mobile app challenge a few weeks ago. Axial Exchange's Care Transition Suite took first prize in the challenge.
The challenge called for apps that use mobile technology to assist information exchange across different providers. We spoke with Jean-Luc Neptune, senior VP of Health 2.0, which ran the challenge for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, about what put the Raleigh, N.C. vendor at the top of the heap.
The suite is essentially a third-layer product that pulls data from inpatient, ER, pharmacy, testing and other systems to create central summaries that follow patients "from ambulance through inpatient and post-discharge," Neptune says. For example, EMS teams input patient data during transport and that data is pushed to a care summary for ER physicians ahead of the patient's arrival at the hospital. Post-discharge summaries are automatically generated and sent to the patient's physician and the patient's own smartphone or tablet, according to company officials.
"It's elegant and nicely done," Neptune says.
The suite also has a patient-facing component, which provides care summaries, medication lists, follow-up appointment notifications and other alerts to patients' mobile devices, he notes. It also includes an education app that asks patients a series of questions about their post-discharge care, ongoing health needs and any possible exacerbations they experience after leaving the healthcare setting.
"I was really impressed by how simple and clean the patient-facing application was. It has big buttons, big fonts [and] simple language," Neptune says.
Three big challenges lie ahead for the fledgling app suite, though:
- The product isn't quite ready for prime time. Axial won the challenge with a prototype and is on the hunt for a beta-tester now, Neptune says. "They'll probably put it into production" soon, he adds.
- The company is small, Neptune notes. "They're not quite garage-entrepreneurs, but they aren't a big company yet," he says. The company did earn $1.5 million in its first round of financing last year, which may get things rolling soon.
- Integration/interfacing is ongoing. The system is relatively software agnostic, but does require some integration on Axial's part for legacy systems, Neptune notes. They've already integrated with AllScripts, and will be pushing to integrate with other vendors, he says.
For hospitals already overburdened trying to install and integrate their own EMR systems, this kind of overlay system may be just what they're looking for to boost mobile coordination of care. But Axial's product VP Matt Mattox admits that will be the company's main challenge--getting hospitals to take a chance on a newcomer.
"We have a great integration platform, so moving the data is a non-issue...the hard part is simply getting a very busy hospital to undertake a new initiative," he says.
As part of its first prize win, the startup earned the chance to show off its technology at the CMS QualityNet Conference this year, which could generate some interest. Runners up in the app challenge were iBlueButton from San Diego's Humetrix, and VoIDSPAN from Flexis in Palo Alto, Calif.