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Allscripts’ New Chief: Full Speed Ahead on Population Health Management

March 18, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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Paul Black CEO of Allscripts

These days, Paul Black, the new CEO of Allscripts, the Chicago-based EHR software giant, seems to have one thing on his mind: population health management. As he travels the country, meeting employees of the company as well as its biggest clients, he is establishing a mindset throughout the organization that will encompass this larger concept.

“This day-and-age, the rip-and-replace strategy across an entire health system, with multiple inpatient and outpatient facilities, home health systems, hospice, and even retail clinics, I don’t think is the conversation that people want to have,” Black said in an exclusive interview with HCI’s Associate Editor Gabriel Perna. “They want to talk about how they can view a single patient’s record. That’s the conversation they want to have in regards to population health management.”

While Black says a single architecture system is something that Allscripts can still do, it’s clear from listening to him talk and seeing the company’s recent investments, that it‘s moving beyond that concept.  The acquisitions of DbMotion and Jardogs indicate a future of interoperability and integration, open architecture, and patient engagement. Also telling is the company’s cooperation with some of its biggest competitors in the CommonWell Health Alliance.


The most obvious example of this single patient view/population health movement is the $235 million buy of DbMotion. The Israeli-based company, which was invested in heavily by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) in its earlier days, has supported patient care organizations’ move toward the longitudinal clinical data repository through its core semantic interoperability tool. That tool allows organizations to normalize patient data, while creating point-of-care tools, a physician portal, population management tools, and an analytics gateway.

What this means, Black says, is Allscripts’ can use DbMotion to integrate with several other EHR systems. It can help the organization identify patient records and put them in a community record that sits above different architectures. Once those records are virtualized, analytics can be used for population health purposes.

It’s been a few months since Black officially took the reins of the company from the previous chief executive, Glen Tullman. It’s fair to say the company has gone through some turmoil in the past year-and-a-half. Along with the executive turnover, it had its share of legal battles, a roller-coaster stock price, and rumors of it being bought out by a private equity firm.

Many industry experts, such as vice president of research at the Orem, Utah-based research and consulting firm, KLAS, Coray Tate, have pointed at a lack of integration at the center of Allscripts’ problems.

Whether or not a DbMotion can help Allscripts in this area remains to be seen. Thus far, Black says, the reaction has been met positively. “[In parts of the country] this isn’t the vision, this is the train that left the station. They have been doing a version of population health management, which is full capitation, for a long period of time. I’m working with a number of clients where these aren’t dreams or thoughts, these are ‘I have been doing this for a while, I have a vision,’ and now this is a reality because of the solutions we’re going to offer,” Black says.


Black also spoke of the CommonWell Health Alliance, the recently announced collaboration among Allscripts, Cerner, McKesson, and a few other EHR vendors in an effort to promote seamless interoperability. He says the organization is about creating that national patient identifier, mentioned earlier.

“We know how to make our systems interoperate better than anybody. It’s not say the government should have or could have done this, we just got together as a group of people that know how to build and operate systems because it’s important, at a national level, for all of us, to be able to identify patients,” Black says.

Not to be overlooked, the acquisition of the Springfield, Ill.-based Jardogs speaks strongly of another ideal that pertains to the population health management concept: patient engagement. Jardogs offers cloud software that allows patients to view their health information, communicate with physicians, pay bills, and undertake in other typical patient engagement tasks. The cloud software is also EMR agnostic and allows providers to connect access real-time health updates.

For now, those seem to be the biggest splashes Allscripts will make in terms of acquisitions and growth. Although Black hinted, briefly, at some smaller things, he said nothing would be as big as the DbMotion and Jardogs acquisitions.