New EHR Company Ready to Launch – Carecloud

Aaron Blackledge M.D., founder of Care Practice clinic in San Francisco, sent me a link to a post he did back in April about a new EMR company called Carecloud. The irony of this is that Carecloud had just reached out to me for information about advertising their EMR on my sites since they are getting ready to launch their product. Their impending launch was why Aaron decided to share his post with me.

I think Dr. Blackledge’s post about Carecloud is summarized in his final paragraph:

My recommendation is if you are about to give up and lay down some hard earned cash on an EMR that is just good enough I would urge you to wait a few more months and compare CareCloud’s first iteration with other emerging platforms now gaining a foothold in the marketplace.

Since Carecloud is about to launch, you won’t have to wait a few months to check it out, but if you read the rest of the post, you see that Dr. Blackledge is high on Carecloud and its potential.

The hard thing for me is that I’ve seen this same EMR high from people over and over. You know the EMR employee (particularly the EMR sales people) “high.” (Although, Dr. Blackledge is not a Carecloud sales person and calls himself a “wayward disgruntled platform evangelist waiting for the future to arrive.”) The one where you can tell that the EMR employee has drunk the Kool-aid they’ve been fed by the company. They’ve likely not looked at many other competing systems and only know the stuff they’ve read in their email from the company highlighting how they’re better than everyone else in the industry.

This “high” is especially potent before a product is actually released. Why? Because it’s easy to get excited about an ideal and see the potential of the ideal. What’s much harder is when the customers start using your product and telling you what’s wrong and trust me that customers will find something wrong. No product is ever perfect.

This pre-product launch “high” is not unique to the EMR industry. It’s found throughout the tech industry (and likely many others). Funny thing is that Dr. Blackledge probably knows this pre-launch hype better than most doctors since he practices medicine in in the internet startup mecca: silicon valley. Ironically he traveled to an EMR company in Miami to find his EMR “high.”

Funny thing is that as I read Dr. Blackledge’s post on Carecloud, a number of comments he made popped out to me as potential red flags. Here are a few:

“First off, they have a really impressive group of people with ambitious plans for building something robust and elegant.”
How many big ambitious plans by companies have fallen apart? Many! I’m not saying that companies shouldn’t think big. I am saying that a group of impressive people with ambitious plans often leads to a momentous flop. At least the startup company numbers seem to spell this out.

“What I like most about CareCloud is that when asked about a timeline for release they will only say that they won’t release it until they get it right. They simply don’t know when it will be ready.”
Some might say that this sounds like a company that’s too afraid to release a product. That the company won’t ever find out what’s right until they launch the product and get customer feedback on what needs to be improved. I guess they don’t follow the release early and often approach to software development.

“Another thing I like is they are worried about not just becoming a very successful billing company, but they want to achieve much more by building something that really resonates with users and transforms the space.”
I applaud this ambition since I’ve been preaching that current EMR software are often just expensive billing machines for a long time. If they solve that problem I’ll be quite happy. Let’s just hope they didn’t forget the billing part though. Sadly, it’s still very important.

“I would guess CareCloud’s calm steady course is because they just don’t feel that anyone else is on the same path they are on so why hurry when you have time to get your vision done right.”
This is possible. Although, it’s also possible that they spent so much time waiting to release that it’s too late for them to capture the EHR market.

“If you hear an EMR company offer you 20 hours of free training with your purchase you can stop right there because any software that needs 20 hours of free onsite training forgot about the user long ago during the building and won’t be doing much in 5 years.”
Of course, in this comment it’s assumed that Carecloud’s focus on a great UI will limit the number of hours needed for EMR training. I love the irony of this being said right after he describes it as a “very complex and difficult to develop product.” I guess you could say it’s making a complex process simple is what’s so difficult. No doubt I agree that many EHR vendors over charge for their EHR training services. Problem with Carecloud is that we don’t know if they’ll charge, how much they’ll charge, and how many hours of training is needed since they haven’t launched.

“Even the office space at CareCloud is beautiful and reflects this attention to aesthetic and experience of the individual, in this case the employee experience.”
That’s one way to look at it. Another is that they overspent on office space and you’re going to pay for that overspending when you buy the software.

Ok, I won’t go through and nit pick the whole post. I think you get the basic idea. Dr. Blackledge describes Carecloud as the best thing since sliced bread. In this post, I’ve played devil’s advocate and described how maybe it’s an over funded, slow to release software company that’s trying to bite off more than it can chew. The reality is that Carecloud is probably somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.

The fact of the matter is that I really don’t have any clue if Carecloud is a good EMR system or not. They haven’t even launched their product, so I’m not sure that anyone knows. However, after creating this post, I have to admit that I’m excited to see it in action in a real doctor’s office. Plus, I think the founder, Albert Santalo, and Dr. Blackledge are going to be at a healthcare IT conference I’m hoping to go to in SF in a couple weeks. I’m looking forward to learning more and talking with them in person.

If nothing else, I love the audacity that it takes for someone to launch an EHR company now. I’ll be interested to see if their product is compelling enough to be “heard above all the EMR noise.”

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

10 Comments

  • What’s his beef with training? IMO, the more training the better. A good EHR will help users re-design workflow in a way that best utilizes the technology. If it’s just a paper substitute, what’s the point? IMHO, we have the opportunity now to analyze and tighten up healthcare workflows, and if vendors aren’t spending the time to work with/train users it’s a huge missed opportunity.

  • Nate,
    I think his issue with training isn’t what you describe. It’s the issue of the cost that many (probably most) EHR companies tie to the training. Often this training expense isn’t told to the practice until after the fact. Plus, many clinics don’t calculate the cost for a doctor to take a few days (or a week) to not see patients and do training.

    Point being that it’s very expensive for a doctor to train on an EMR, so anything an EMR vendor can do to minimize and expedite the training for a clinic is very valuable.

  • Carecloud is a PM system that advertises several analytical and other tools, often found in an EMR. For example, a patient portal.

    It has partnered with Xpress Technologies to provide an EMR – PM solution for urgent and express care.

    Carecloud’s site describes several services, but there are no screenshots, etc. A demo is available if you register for it with your name, practice, specialty, phone number, etc.

  • I bet Carecloud will have success finding its spot in the market.

    OT … and not meaning to be promotional … I wonder why UK’s Egton Medical Information Systems Ltd (EMIS) … UK’s top primary care EMR with over half the UK market … hasn’t tried to develop an EHR for release to the U.S. market?

    From a June release … http://www.emis-online.com/news/emis-named-healthcare-technology-group-of-the-year

    “EMIS Group plc (AIM: EMIS), the UK’s leading primary care software provider, has been named ‘healthcare technology group of the year’ at the HealthInvestor Awards 2011.

    … for the company’s innovative approach to interoperability and improving patient care communications between GPs and the wider healthcare community.

    The launch of EMIS Web and the creation of Healthcare Gateway were central to the Group’s award success.

    EMIS Web is designed to improve patient care and NHS efficiency by allowing primary, secondary and extended care professionals to share and contribute to a patient’s core medical record.

    … A key feature of EMIS Web is that it can interoperate with other software systems, significantly increasing the potential for broader ‘healthcare conversations’.

    Why don’t we read stories about one of the 200 or 300 US vendors selling EHR/EMR ambulatory systems to US EPs?

  • Hi John,

    I found your post to be interesting and a bit informative. I do however have to disagree, at least in my case, regarding the ignorance of the “EHR high”. I am also with an EHR software solutions company that has launched recently and believe me, I have done my homework. I have looked at at least 15 other systems on the market out there and I guess the biggest difference with us is that we are fully certified. I’m not talking just about the bare requirements, we are certified to the fullest, 142 modules, 33 complete phases, in which only 9 were required. So not everyone is taking this lightly and trying to just “jump on the band wagon”, if you will. We really do care about the Dr’s as well as the patients’ needs. We include training in our package and are very transparent with our pricing. I just wanted to put a word out here for those of us working so hard for this and let you know that it is not all ignorant bliss. We are striving to know what is needed in an EHR system from all points, and honestly I can say, that we have what I believe to be the best system out here. I’m not trying to promote, I’m just on a “much deserved, highly researched, tangible high”. 🙂

  • Cynthia,
    Thanks for commenting. I’m sorry if I gave the impression that all EMR salespeople suffer from the high. That wasn’t my intent. Certainly there are some EMR salespeople (and likely some of the best ones) that don’t suffer from the EMR high.

    Just to provider another perspective on what you describe, many might argue that an EHR vendor that develops all of the EHR certification criteria is building a bunch of features that aren’t useful to the doctors who will use their system. Basically, I’ve heard many people (including myself on occasion) talk about how many of the EHR certification requirements don’t actually add value to the provider or clinic. This is even more true if an EHR focuses on certain specialties for example. So it could be argued that by developing all of the EHR certification requirements you spent time developing unneeded features when you could have been focusing on features doctors actually wanted.

    Other people that are fans of certification might argue that the EHR certification requirements are what every doctor needs and so you’ve chosen a good path.

    I’m not trying to promote anything either. My goal is to just try and provide both sides of every position and let others make well informed, educated decisions. Plus, I often do miss things or fail to communicate things properly, so I’m always grateful when people like yourself join in on the conversation.

  • Hi John,

    No worries, I didn’t take offense. I am just really excited about this industry, and yes, our EHR system in particular. If you are a Dr., and I hope that you are, I want you to see our system and get some feedback. You are right in some ways, that we don’t always know exactly what each Dr’s needs are, and these systems are being designed for a multitude of practice types. So not only do you have different types of human beings with different preferences, you also have completely different fields of practice in which no one practice type works remotely like another. It is going to be very difficult to please everyone. This is just going to be simply a new system that will have to benefit on trial and error….and correction. I love talking about this because I too am still learning so much. The better I know my clients and their needs, the better provider I am to them, and that is my goal. Thank you for initiating the discussion. I look forward to speaking with you again soon.

  • Cynthia,
    I hope you always keep that excitement. Makes life better for you and everyone around you. It’s always fun to be part of something you see as special.

    Just to be clear, I’m definitely NOT a doctor. Although, it’s pretty common for readers of this blog to think so. Quite frankly, I kind of use the “voice” of a doctor when I write on the blog. Although, I prefer to just call myself a physician advocate. My background and education is on the IT side of things though.

    What you describe about physician practices all being different is dead on. You and your company are going to have a fun time working through that challenge. Every EHR vendor does.

    We’re all still learning. That’s why I started this blog. To share what I learn and to learn from others. I’m sure we’ll have some great discussions in the future.

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