The company has now raised $135 million over the last year
Interoperability might be a buzzword in healthcare, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important: thanks, in large part, to electronic health records (EHRs), approximately 30% of the world’s data volume is now being generated by the healthcare industry. By 2025, it is expected to reach 36%, growing faster than sectors like manufacturing, financial services, and media.
Having all that data is useless if the systems can’t talk to each other, though, said G. Cameron Deemer, President of DrFirst, which announced a $50 million new funding round on Wednesday. DrFirst is a technology platform that is embedded in roughly 300 different EHRs, solving problems around workflows, interoperability and patient compliance.
“It was a huge step to get to the point where people could send a record to somebody else. It’s like the lowest possible level and finally the federal government drove adoption of secure email standards in order to make it possible. But even if you send a record, what are you going to do with it? Can you import it? So then the government worked on, “Okay, you have to be able to import a record after you receive it,” and they finally achieved that so everybody can theoretically import a record. But you know what? That still doesn’t mean anybody can use it,” he said.
“The fact that you understand the value in a field doesn’t mean your system can import that value. One of the big challenges now is the last mile, the things that have been intractable for people.”
For example, each EHR will have a drug compendium database, where each drug has its own code. That does not mean, however, that the person receiving that information uses the same drug compendium. So, the drugs in one database might not match the drugs in the other database. There are also cases where the language doesn’t match; one database might use the term “oral” and the other might use “by mouth,” causing barrier to semantic interoperability.
DrFirst solves these problems by working primarily in what Deemer calls “the triangle of care,” with a physician at the apex, the pharmacy and hospital at the other two corners; the company connects all of them so they can work together and collaborate on the patient, who’s in the middle of that triangle.
For example, when a patient enters a hospital, they will be asked what medications they take, but people have incomplete memory, or they may not be responsive. So, the hospital is going to pull a med history report from an industry standard source. However, the report is going to be incomplete, and the hospital may not even be able to import it. DrFirst takes that report and cleans it up, while also bringing other sources into it, such as pharmacies that patients may have been visiting, as well as information from payers.
“The data in the standard feed doesn’t have instructions for how the drugs should be taken. That means the hospital personnel have to get on the phone and call somebody in order to fill that information. We use machine learning and AI to fill in the gaps,” said Deemer.
As a result, DrFirst can take what’s about a 70% complete patient record and make it close to 95% complete, saving tremendous time and hassle, and also avoiding adverse drug events when you’re admitted to the hospital.
“From a hospital perspective, it’s just like magic, but behind the scenes we’re filling in gaps, we’re converting terminology and we’re matching drug codes that otherwise might not match very well when they’re being brought into the hospital. So, a lot of the work we do is like that: we fill gaps in the EHR systems because of our broad footprint across this whole space and all the different stakeholders who care about the patient.”
DrFirst’s solution is currently being used by nearly 300,000 healthcare professionals, including more than 100,000 prescribers, nearly half of the EHR systems in the U.S., and…