Four years ago, visiting doctors’ offices with a family member, software developer Michael Nusimow noticed doctors in small practices struggling with paper-based processes and those in large health systems struggling with user-unfriendly computer systems. He and partner Daniel Kivatinos developed some Web-based applications for the private practice market, including streamlined billing software. But three years ago, something happened that would alter their plans significantly: the introduction of the iPad.
“We heard so many doctors say this is exactly what they wanted in terms of size and form factor,” Nusimow says. So even before the official iPad release, they changed direction and put all their focus on an iPad EHR app called drchrono. “We used the initial customers of our early tools as advisors on the features and work flow issues,” he recalls. “We took it to the Health 2.0 conference in Florida and started making sales right away. Those early users gave great feedback on how to improve it.”
Drchrono then moved to California from New York, and went through an incubitor called Y Combinator, which provides seed money, advice, and person-to-person networking connections.
In a few short years, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company has grown to 75 employees. It has 42,000 users registered to use its free EHR that allows them to meet the requirements of meaningful use. “Our business model involves getting revenue from paid upgrades to the free offering,” Nusimow explains. Most is from revenue and billing cycle management features tied into the clinical system, but the system also offers a speech-to-text engine and an inventory management module. Nusimow stresses that drchrono does not sell ads or share patient or provider data with third parties.
The majority of customers are in small practices, but one customer has 30 physicians. Larger practices, he says, require more administrative functionality.
Nusimow says drchrono has benefited from being one of the few EHRs with a focus on the iPad. The company has had a good relationship with Apple, which featured drchrono in the healthcare area of its iPads in business section of its Web site. “I also think our ‘freemium’ business model is compelling,” Nusimow says. “Our revenue model is clear to customers.”
The company is also looking at ways to improve personal health records on mobile devices. Early this year drchrono officially launched onpatient, which allows patients to create a personal health record from their Google Health data. This record can be linked to drchrono’s free EHR platform. “We are looking at onpatient as a long-term way to connect patients and clinicians,” Nusimow says. “It is available as an iPhone app that can link to FDA-approved mobile tools such as the iHealth blood pressure cuff and scale for iPhone.
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