Can current suppliers survive the coming revolution?

Electronic patient record

Ethical Healthcare Consulting asks if current suppliers can survive the coming revolution as the company looks to the future of the Electronic Patient Record (EPR)

Apple has recently announced that they are making their health records platform open. This is a big deal for the whole Electronic Patient Record (EPR) space. The key is the wording; Apple are building a platform but they’re absolutely not trying to build a monolithic EPR. This is intentional.

They are building a platform that will contain millions of health records, in a standardised, normalised and consented way. In doing so, they are removing pretty much all barriers to entry into the healthcare software market, creating a potential explosion in digital health innovation.

But why would they do this? It is down to the platform business model – in providing a large-scale platform they are essentially creating their own innovation playground. Amazon, Apple et al. (in other words platform providers) will all have a helicopter view of what is doing well on their platform and will simply buy whatever that is, absorb it and let it make money for them. It is a simple and very successful business model. They get to buy their future competitors before they actually become the competition without creating the innovation themselves. Look at Google buying Deepmind, or Facebook buying Whatsapp, they become even more dominant in that sector and so the vicious circle continues.

EHC hopes to change this and shake things up a little. Our solution was to create a not for profit, community interest company with a primary focus on supporting NHS staff and patients whilst offering the same expertise to compete with the big consultancies. In essence, doing the right thing really well without a financial agenda. EHC is the only not for profit health informatics consultancy in the UK with one goal in mind, to do the best for patients and healthcare providers whilst offering unrivalled value for money. We like to call it ‘value-driven expertise’.

The future

So, what will happen next? We predict that:

Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon (amongst others) will continue to create their healthcare data platforms, catalysing a whole new generation of innovation of patient/citizen facing healthcare software;

The NHS will mandate interoperability but… Apple etc. will become the dominant voices in interoperability instead, setting data and messaging standards just by the sheer popularity of their platforms and the apps sat on them. Users will expect the systems in their providers to access these health clouds, so the NHS bureaucracy will have to keep up with these standards (which of course it won’t be able to, but Simon Eccles’ intentions are to be lauded nonetheless);

The current monopoly of the existing supplier community will be broken and come under attack from pretty much anyone that wants to have a go at writing a better system than those that exist right now without the worry of building a proprietary data model. Clinicians will, directly or indirectly, build their own systems and they will be far better.

As proven by the suite of globally dominant uber-applications such as Facebook, people’s data is the new currency. These apps are not free, we all pay for them with our data. Those who control the data have all the power. What we see happening in the next 10 years will be the gold rush and marketisation of health and care data. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top, but we very much doubt it will be the current crop of suppliers with systems built around data intransigence. For them, it is already too late.

Please note: this is a commercial profile

Ethical Healthcare Consulting CIC

Steve Loveridge

Tel: +44 (0)7779 498 617

Thomas Webb

Tel: +44 (0)7786 731 917


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