Following in Epic’s footsteps, Cerner has struck a deal with a vendor supporting a range of digital health tools designed for both consumers as well as physicians. What makes the agreement notable is less the fact that both Cerner and Epic have signed on with digital health vendor Xealth – though a bit unusual – but rather, that the deals suggest that the two have similar ideas as to how patient outreach and patient engagement should work.
Cerner is so impressed by Xealth that in addition to using Xealth technology, it partnered with LRVHealth on a $6 million investment in the company. This follows investments by a number of other healthcare organizations, including the Cleveland Clinic, Froedert and the Medical College of Wisconsin, UPMC, McKesson, Novartis, Phillips and ResMed. In other words, it’s not only the two EHR giants who think the vendor has the right approach to digital health management.
According to a news release, the Xealth platform connects with more than 30 digital health solutions, including remote patient monitoring, virtual care platforms and e-commerce tools making product recommendations.
Also, the platform helps clinicians integrate, prescribe and monitor digital health tools for patients using centralized EHR-based tools. Xealth also integrates with Cerner’s patient portal, which it says will give care teams the ability to monitor patient engagement and also analyze the effects of higher engagement levels on a patient’s health and recovery.
All of sounds very promising. If Xealth and/or other competitors can just integrate remote patient data into the EHR, as I see it they’d already be a potential winner. If their platform delivers as promised in helping providers monitor and manage digital health tools, Xealth could be the kind of game-changer every vendor wants you to believe that they are.
On the other hand, though, we all know that agreement on an approach or standard doesn’t mean that it’s going to stick or become universally accepted. Yes, there are a lot of large and powerful organizations on Xealth’s list of investors. What’s more, I doubt Cerner and Epic will be the last EHR-focused players to integrate its technology. But that’s not the whole story.
This may be just the contrarian in me, but I’m actually a bit more skeptical when two otherwise warring factions within the health IT agree on how to handle something. After all, the two have their own plans and It’s rare for them to agree on anything technology-wise. (Remember the battle between Epic-backed Carequality and Cerner-back CommonWell over interoperability approaches?)
For patients’ sake if nothing else, I hope the Cerner and Epic investments work out. But given the still-fluid nature of digital health, I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t.