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article imageChanging how healthcare professionals communicate: Interview Special

By Tim Sandle     Nov 2, 2017 in Health
One limitation with delivering effective healthcare is the uneven process by which healthcare professionals communicate with each other. To breakdown such barriers, Dr. William Winkenwerder has led a team at Cureatr that developed an app.
Physicians, nurses, social workers, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals often have problems communicating with one another. Part of this is due to time; other factors relate to the complexities of bringing together different disciplines.
The loser in this is often the patient, and there is a risk they can become ‘lost’ in the system and sometimes much needed collaboration over a patient's health doesn’t occur. To overcome this, Dr. William Winkenwerder, who was the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, is leading a team at Cureatr that has developed a Twitter-like app for healthcare professionals. The aim of the app is to help healthcare providers to overcome care-coordination challenges that result in delays and errors.
To find out more Digital Journal spoke with Dr. Winkenwerder, who the CEO and is leading the development team at the startup health technology company Cureatr.
Official DoD biographical picture of William Winkenwerder Jr.
Official DoD biographical picture of William Winkenwerder Jr.
Scott Davis, U.S. Army
Digital Journal: Dr. Winkenwerder , what do you see as the main challenges facing healthcare today?
Dr. Winkenwerder: The rising cost of healthcare is one of the main challenges facing the industry. For many American families, it's pushing healthcare out of reach and limiting access to care. It's becoming unaffordable.
DJ: How big a problem is communication?
Dr. Winkenwerder: The inability of providers to communicate and cross collaborate with each other in a timely manner is directly contributing to the high cost of healthcare. We are currently seeing a duplication of work and efforts. Unnecessary tests are being ordered and repeated.
Medical providers not having the most up-to-date information is a direct cause of this. It's an even bigger problem for the care of high chronic patients. New communication technologies that enable secure interoperability will help alleviate this problem and become a major factor in coordinating quality care.
DJ: How did the idea for Cureatr come about?
Dr. Winkenwerder: We realized the healthcare industry needed secure communications especially as it relates to texting. Cureatr was established as a secure platform to allow medical professionals to communicate with one another and exchange clinical information while remaining HIPAA-compliant.
Since then, Cureatr has grown to include more capabilities like clinical event notifications, data and analytics, and important clinical info that can be passed along from one provider to the next.
DJ: What types of data does Cureatr capture? How is this data displayed?
Dr. Winkenwerder: Cureatr captures basic information about patients, demographics, clinical descriptions - such as diagnosis, physician, medications, location of care, etc. Cureatr enables medical professionals to send each other basic information about a patient.
We capture this from health information exchanges, hospital administrative systems and electronic health records. This data is displayed on the Cureatr application, which is available on iOS and Android, tablets, laptops and desktops.
DJ: What were the main challenges when developing Cureatr?
Dr. Winkenwerder: We faced many technical challenges to write and develop the software that would enable providers to communicate with each other over a secure system. There were challenges getting large healthcare systems to adopt the Cureatr platform. However, large healthcare systems quickly recognized Cureatr has a unique value proposition. Today, roughly tens of thousands medical professionals are using the technology in more than 150 U.S. institutions and healthcare organizations.
DJ: What are the benefits for healthcare professionals?
Dr. Winkenwerder: Cureatr provides clinicians timely information about their patients. Another benefit of Cureatr is it provides better coordination of care among providers by allowing them to talk to each other in real time. In short, it gives them quick access to the right information and the right care teams enabling them to provide better care. It also saves them time.
DJ: What are the benefits for patients?
Dr. Winkenwerder: Patients will get better care when physicians, nurses and caregivers communicate with each other. Cureatr is the tool that brings providers together on one platform. Physicians and nurses will make better informed decisions when they have timely, relevant information on a patient. Cureatr makes that happen.
DJ: What has the interest in Cureatr been like so far?
Dr. Winkenwerder: Cureatr was recently named as one of the top healthcare companies driving the future of healthcare technology. The healthcare tech blog, Redox, gave us that award. But we're also seeing interest from physicians and providers as our number of users grow every month. Every day our customers come to us with new ways to use the platform.
Today, roughly tens of thousands of medical professionals are using the technology in more than 150 U.S. institutions and healthcare organizations. And that number has doubled in 2017 alone.
DJ: How did you address data security concerns?
Dr. Winkenwerder: We have best in class very secure platform with encryption procedures, protecting our data. We are also using secure third-party data managers. We regularly test our system internally as well as with external resources that push our platform and test our security.
DJ: What else are you working on?
Dr. Winkenwerder: Cureatr is continually working on new functionality for our platform. We lead the market with Patient Centric Messaging and Clinical Event Notifications. We are continually implementing feedback from users by adding new features that will help providers better care for patients. 2018 will be very exciting for us – we a robust product road map and our product development team is continually working on new ways to improve and expand our platform.
DJ: What other areas of healthcare technology interest you?
Dr. Winkenwerder: I'm interested in big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, the inter-operability of data systems and databases. I'm also interested in other areas that directly impact the ability of both healthcare providers and healthcare insurers to work more efficiently and more effectively. There are many significant administrative challenges within the healthcare system. I believe that good information technology will eliminate many of those challenges.
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