By Matalyn Merkatoris
Medical practices across the country are missing a chance to earn up to $4 billion that could be unlocked easily with the help of software.
That’s according to Ben West, CEO and creator of Concinnity, a Madison-based company that is seeking to capitalize on better use of electronic health records.
To improve the overall quality of care provided, the federal Centers of Medicare and Medicaid has created incentives for providing and tracking higher levels of quality services. The incentivized system encourages a higher quality of care but can be a larger challenge than many physicians and their firms are willing to take on, which causes them to forfeit possible funding.
Moving forward there will not be incentives for recording the quality of care.
Starting in 2016 practices receiving funding through Medicare will instead be penalized for not participating. The penalty will be 2 percent of the portion of income claimed from CMS.
The struggle that many smaller medical practices — those with fewer than 200 physicians — face is understanding the regulations and monitoring and tracking the data. For these smaller practices, this is usually done by a person.
West, who has a background in the health care technology, noted this struggle and unnecessary loss of funds. After working for Epic Systems in Verona, he left with many ideas to improve the technology in health care, but realized they were not as good as he thought. Years later, and after working more with medical information systems, the idea for Concinnity was born.
Concinnity was launched by West in mid-2014. It is currently in pre-revenue stages and West is working to set up a pilot. He noted that he will likely have to look outside of Madison for a pilot as well as the ideal customer for Concinnity. Much of the health care in Madison is concentrated in large companies, West says the ideal size group to benefit from adopting Concinnity would be 25 to 200 physicians.
The Concinnity software helps these physician groups take advantage of the technology and interfaces that they currently use. Electronic medical records are an existing platform in most hospital and clinical information systems. EMRs are a universal standard used to transfer patient information. Because Concinnity uses the existing systems, the implementation costs are kept minimal. Other softwares with the same purpose have the bulk of their expenses in the setup.
Because the regulations are complicated and ever-changing, West plans to have a monthly subscription fee to keep the software current. He says that small hospitals and systems can receive significant funding from Medicare and therefore have enough to gain by purchasing a Concinnity license.
Even if the system would pay for itself, West recognizes that there are challenges in selling this technology to physicians. Many are set in the ways of having a person keep records in accordance with regulations and there is an overall mistrust between health care and technology.
“People are right to be a little cautious,” said West, who noted not all health care technologies have not stood up to what they promised to do in the past.
With such a recent start to Concinnity, West sees the biggest constraint to be time. It will take time to gain exposure and customer interest. West presented during the Nov. 13 Elevator Pitch Olympics at the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium and was among the top three companies in scoring by investor judges.
— Merkatoris is a student in the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication.