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Summary:

Electronic medical records company Practice Fusion is taking its first step toward making money from the data generated by its free software system for doctors.

healthcare
photo: Nonnakrit/Shutterstock

With an electronic medical records (EMR) system that serves more than 150,000 U.S. physicians, Practice Fusion is sitting on mounds of interesting prescription data – from information on the medications doctors prescribe to the reasons why they switch between treatments and the ways their patients in various demographics are responding.

Since launching, the company has only talked about the value of its data, but hasn’t turned it into a revenue source – it’s a free service that has earned revenue by advertising to doctors using the service. But, on Tuesday, the company made its first step toward making money from its data with the announcement of a new analytics product, called Practice Fusion Insight.

Drawing from the company’s nationwide EMR system that tracks 64 million patients, the new product enables pharmaceutical companies, industry analysts, financial analysts and others to buy a subscription to access real-time data on prescriptions, patient demographics and outcomes. Selling patient data — just like selling personal data on any consumer site — can be a sensitive topic, but Practice Fusion the data used in its tools are de-identified and aggregated.

“It’s an analytics tool to look at drugs and pharmaceutical products and really try to get granular information on what doctors are using and how,” said Chris Hogg, Practice Fusion’s associate vice president of data science, who joined the company through the recent acquisition of his startup 100Plus. He added that the company is also offering physicians free tools that give them a way to track trends across their entire population of patients, as well as compare their patients’ information against aggregated data from other physicians in the system.

Companies like Thomson Reuters and Wolter Kluwer already provide big pharma brands and analysts market intelligence on how their products and rivals are doing. But Hogg said the difference is that Practice Fusion can give them an even deeper dive, with real-time information on the drugs doctors are switching to, the profiles of the doctors writing the prescriptions and the demographics of the patients that are most or least responsive.

In the past few months, the company has expanded its services to consumers, with a doctor appointment-booking site and health expense tools. Those additions will generate additional information, from patient health trends to health care costs, and it will be very interesting to see how the company builds analytics tools around that data.

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  1. Nobody expects that sensitive private (medical) information is being accumulated by an “unknown” third-party provider (commercial entity). Class action law suite?

    1. Go for it, man. Big money in it for you, I’m sure of it.

  2. Veronica Tran Wednesday, June 5, 2013

    More information = less time wasted on inefficiencies in the system. Big fan of PracticeFusion and what they’re doing.

    At DoctorBase, we’ve processed over 5,000 eVisits for our healthcare providers, and are giving this information away for free for the very same reason. It’s insight, obfuscated.

    For example, our numbers indicate most OBGYNS communicate with patients at night. There, we said it.

  3. Here’s the problem with the data: it may not actually be accurate. I’ve worked with 3 clinics that used Practice Fusion, and not one of them had the doctor himself putting the “reason for the medication switch.” It’s always the MA, and in fact, none of them even put a reason. They just clicked on “other” to get away from having to actually spend the few seconds required to think about the real reason for the switch. Clinics are busy, you know, and there will never be an employee dedicated to just doing the EMR. So I question the value of the data generated from it.

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