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One-on-One With PatientKeeper CEO Paul Brient, Part I

January 3, 2010
by root
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Paul Brient says to make physicians happy, automate their whole lives, not just their interaction with one institution.


With HITECH making physician acceptance of CPOE more important than ever, getting the user interface right is paramount. Unfortunately, most HIS vendors have spent the last few decades optimizing their products to capture transaction and store data. Thus, physicians are often left wanting when trying to navigate green screens using function keys. To address this need, those same HIS vendors have gone back to the drawing board in an effort to make the docs happy. But third-party vendors have also been working to fill the breech, including PatientKeeper. To learn more about how this vendor is making core HIS offerings palatable for physicians, Healthcare Informatics Editor-in-Chief Anthony Guerra recently caught up with CEO Paul Brient.


GUERRA: From my vantage point, PatientKeeper seems to occupy a unique position. I don’t quickly come up with three to four companies that do what you do. Obviously, you compete with the core HIS vendors because you’re supplementing what seems to be a deficiency in those systems. Would you describe it that way? Tell me a little bit about the hole you’re filling in the market.

BRIENT: That’s really a good question, and I think your observation is exactly correct. We actually have a (PowerPoint) slide that we use when talking about the competitive landscape for us, we look at each of our applications and there are a variety of point-solution vendors for each one. My observation’s always, “Well, we compete with all of them, but they don’t compete with each other.” We really look at the world a little bit differently than just about anyone has, and our shtick is very much around how you automate a physician, how do you get a physician technology that they will adopt, embrace, love, use, and that’ll make a difference for them.

There are people in the core HIS vendors who look at us as a competitor. They say, “We have a hospital information system, and we have a place for physicians to go look at the stuff that’s in it. If PatientKeeper provides a way for physicians to look at information, they must be competing with us.”

We take a different view. Our view is that looking at the results from one hospital information system is only a very small piece of what physicians do. We all know the challenges that the HIS systems have had with physician adoption, and people always say, “Well, gee, the user interface isn’t good,” or this isn’t good or that isn’t good. The concept that you can automate a physician at the same time you’re automating the individual hospital — which might be just one of the hospitals or physician practices where they do business — is just flawed. If you want to automate a physician, let’s automate what that person does. If I want to find you a technology to automate your day and I said, “Well, I’m going to take on 15 percent of it because that’s what I do,” how is that going to produce a great result for you?

So the thing that’s unique about us is that we have said, “Let’s take everything a doctor does and automate it,” which isn’t necessarily the easiest task in the world, but we’ve been at it for 11 years now, and we’re just about done. Thanks to the folks in Washington with the stimulus program and meaningful use and all that, I think we are going to be done much faster than we would have been.

GUERRA: Right. So you automate the doctors’ workflow. You make life easier for them, but the doctors aren’t typically buying your solution. It’s the hospitals that want to strengthen that relationship with their physicians. Is that accurate?

BRIENT: Yes. About 70 percent of our customers — the people that buy — are hospitals, 30 percent are physicians themselves. So some physicians do buy our solution. But in many cases, in most cases, when hospitals buy our software, they buy it because they want to make their physicians happy with technology. No one goes out and buys a hospital information system to make the doctors happy, but they buy our system to make the doctors happy.


GUERRA: Having a nicer CPOE interface can give competitive advantage to one hospital over another.