Renaissance Health Improves Patient Care with IT

The small physician practice is working with Greenway Medical Technologies, a small IT company funded by doctors, to help serve patients' diverse needs.

As co-founder of Renaissance Health, an innovative prototype of a small physician practice affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Pranav Kothari has set about trying improve patients treatment. "Health care today doesnt serve patients as well as it could," he said.

"Revolutionizing the art of personal health care" is the tagline for Arlington, Mass.-based Renaissance Health, which opened its doors only a few months ago. The practice stemmed from a Harvard University-supported brainstorming session a few years ago that brought together an interdisciplinary group of academics and health care professionals from around the country. Rather than going after the most established, mainstream people, "we brought together edgy people who were on the edge of being fired," Kothari said.

The groups strategy for rapid innovation was modeled after a process that Lockheed Martin developed during World War II termed "Skunk Works." This entails focusing on the ideal endpoint, while simply taking note of constraints without letting them stifle creativity.

Within a few days, the group had a list of goals for a prototypical physician practice. A patient-centered experience was the core value they agreed upon, with the notion that better care follows from a more positive encounter.

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Kothari and his soon-to-be Renaissance Health co-founder, Dr. Rushika Fernandopulle, then spent a few months visiting the most innovative physician practices and medical centers in the United States. They came back with 800 small and large ideas that they wanted to implement, feeling that a lot of practices had only one or two pieces of the puzzle right.

Some of their concepts included expanding the average patient-physician visit to 30 to 60 minutes, from an industry average of 12 minutes, and giving patients direct, round-the-clock access to their doctors. But technology also loomed large.

The practice is fully outfitted with everything from a wireless network to Fujitsu tablets to an integrated clinical, administrative and financial EMR (electronic medical records) system.

The system is provided by Greenway Medical Technologies, a health IT company founded in the early 90s and funded almost exclusively by 60 physicians to the tune of $50 million over the past decade. Its first round of venture capital, $20 million, came through in May.

Renaissance Health chose Greenway after interviewing 30 potential EMR providers. Its edge, according to Dr. Kothari, is that "theyre progressive, innovative and willing to work and improve the product."

Another unique aspect of Greenways offering is the integrated approach to clinical, financial, administrative and research patient data, according to company president Tee Green.

And because Greenways products are based on XML, they can present distinct interfaces for each of these functionalities. So, the administrator and doctor can work on the same patient record but be presented with tailor-made interfaces.

According to the company, this adaptability of the interface is a novel feature. The reliance on XML also means that making the system compatible with other EMR databases will be much easier, Green said.

The Renaissance Health and Greenway are working together to add a whole layer of additional functionality to the basic EMR software. This will include features such as a patient portal allowing access to records, portable electronic patient records on a USB key chain, flow sheets that allow for research and analysis across all patient records, as well as schedule reminders for proactive care management.

"Well be the first practice to do a lot of these things," Kothari said.

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