A few months ago, we told you about Cerner’s partnership with a vendor, Xealth, which created a central platform allowing providers to connect multiple digital health solutions.
Xealth connects with about 30 digital solutions, including remote patient monitoring technology, virtual care platforms and e-commerce tools that make product recommendations. Perhaps the most compelling thing about the deal, from my perspective, was the fact that Epic was working with Xealth as well.
Now, Cerner is expanding its collaboration with Xealth to include centralized digital ordering and monitoring capabilities. As I noted earlier in the year, one of the things that makes this interesting is the extent to which the EHR giant is expanding the boundaries of its footprint among users.
Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that Epic is also working with the digital tool platform vendor. In March of this year, Xealth announced that it had joined Epic’s App Orchard online marketplace, a step that allows providers running on Epic to use the Xealth platform natively within the Epic EHR.
The new technology Cerner is rolling out is designed to help health systems choose, manage and deploy digital tools and applications. Among the first Cerner clients to use these new capabilities is Banner Health, a large nonprofit hospital system.
The new capabilities allow health systems to prescribe tools that have almost always been provided independently the past, including digital therapeutics and smartphone apps tackling such areas as chronic disease management, behavioral health, maternity care, and surgery prep. Digital tools will be made available in a single location within the EHR.
Vendors that have already deployed their technology within the Cerner platform using Xealth include Babyscripts, Glooko, SilverCloud Health and Welldoc. Existing Cerner partners have also deployed on the new digital tool management platform include ResMed, GetWellNetwork and Healthwise Inc.
According to Cerner, one of the reasons this approach is viable is that these tools will allow digital and deputy committees to govern the selection of digital tools in a way similar to how pharmacy committees have managed formularies.
Clearly, it’s not alone in believing that digital health formularies are on the way. Last summer, Express Scripts announced that it planned to introduce what it says is the healthcare industry’s first stand-alone digital health formulary. At the time, Express Scripts said the formulary would launch with tools to manage diabetes, cardiovascular, behavioral health and pulmonary conditions.
In any event, as I’ve noted previously, it’s rare to see Epic and Cerner take the same approach to their product development.
I should note here that Xealth has a particularly high-profile panel of backers, including the Cleveland Clinic, McKesson, Novartis, Phillips and ResMed, along with $6 million Cerner has plowed into the company in partnership with LRVHealth. This makes the agreement of both Cerner and Epic to work with Xealth look less surprising.
Still, I continue to be intrigued by the pas de deux that seems to be emerging here. No matter how highfalutin’ the investors backing Xealth, it’s still interesting to see the EHR giants choose it for moving into the future.