Drchrono Enters Patient Portal Business As Google Health Shuts Down

With Google Health pulling the plug on its personal portal as of Jan. 1, 2013, Drchrono looks to attract patients with its OnPatient application for iOS and Android.

Drchrono has announced that it has redesigned its OnPatient application as a personal health record portal as Google Health shuts down access as of Jan. 1, 2013.

The company offers an electronic health record (EHR) application for the iPad. With OnPatient, Drchrono will now be able to link both its physician EHR applications and a patient portal.

Drchrono previously released OnPatient as a patient check-in app in August 2011.

The key to success for PHR portals is if software developers embed them in physician-managed EHRs, Jessica Ryan Ohlin, a Frost & Sullivan analyst, told eWEEK in 2011.

Daniel Kivatinos, Drchrono's cofounder and COO, agreed with this assessment.

"Google Health wasn't a good way to share the data because they didn't have the medical record side," Kivatinos told eWEEK.

Relaunched on Dec. 20, OnPatient incorporates features that Google Health lacked, said Kivatinos. "In Google Health there wasn't a way for doctor to communicate back and forth in a good way," said Kivatinos.

Drchrono wanted to connect patients to their health records on a smartphone, said Kivatinos.

"We figured we would build specific apps for the iPhone," he said. "Google Health didn't have custom forms from individual doctors—we built this out."

Doctors can use OnPatient to monitor a condition remotely. Patients can share pictures and video on an iPhone in a connection compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). A patient who had a laceration on the arm could take a picture of it and message back and forth with doctors about the condition, said Kivatinos.

"Google Health was missing that real-time feedback," said Kivatinos.

OnPatient enables patients to connect medical devices such as blood pressure cuffs, scales and glucose meters to the iPhone, then store the readings in the patient portal.

It also integrates with iOS Passbook, an application that allows patients to present their medical data to their doctors on an iOS device using a Quick Response (QR) 2D bar code.

In the future, patients will take submit copayments and pay medical bills using OnPatient, said Kivatinos.

"Our end goal is to remove paper from the doctor-patient relationship, and this is another step in that direction," said Kivatinos.

In addition to storing health records, OnPatient allows patients to schedule appointments and track their health spending.

OnPatient now stores records for 1.5 million patients, according to Drchrono.

The application is part of Drchrono's effort to transition its focus to patient-accessed records. The PHR application is free, but Drchrono will generate revenue from doctors using its EHR platform, the company reported.

Before Jan. 1, 2013, patients can use the "Import Google Health Data" button in OnPatient to access their records from Google.

Although iOS applications are Drchrono's "main skill set," the company offers a lightweight HTML5 version of OnPatient for Android devices, Michael Nusimow, Drchrono's cofounder and CEO, told eWEEK.

The federal government's meaningful-use Stage 2 guidelines require that doctors provide a way to share electronic data with patients by the end of 2013, Nusimow noted.

Microsoft HealthVault announced in July 2011 that it would accept patient record transfers from Google Health. MyMediConnect is another player in the PHR space.