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Up-and-Comers 2017: PeraHealth and its Rothman Index Tackle EHR Data

May 25, 2017
by David Raths
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Each year, to accompany our Healthcare Informatics 100 list of the largest companies in U.S. health information technology, we profile six fast-growing companies that could very well make The 100 in the future.

The growth trajectory of these startups suggests they could have a significant impact in health information technology. Most have drawn strong interest from venture capitalists. Others are coming at seemingly intractable problems in healthcare from completely new angles. The next such company on this year’s list is Charlotte, N.C.-based PeraHealth.

Editor’s note: All of the 2017 up-and-comer stories can be read, as they come out this week, right here.

The story of PeraHealth and its Rothman Index grew out of the personal experience of founders Michael and Steven Rothman. After the death of their mother more than 10 years ago, they reflected of the fact that despite the wealth of data captured in the electronic health record (EHR) at the hospital, that data was not being synthesized into meaningful information to actively help the clinicians who had treated her. Although they had experience with data science and visualization, they had not worked in the healthcare field. Nevertheless they set out to create a health “score” that could synthesize EHR data into meaningful, actionable information for care providers.

The Rothman Index (RI) they invented is a composite measurement of a patient's condition using 26 clinical variables taken from the EHR and sensitive to signs of patient clinical decline.

Flash forward to today and more than 80 hospitals and care providers use the Rothman Index, including Yale New Haven Health System, Houston Methodist, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and Mission Health. Charlotte, N.C.-based PeraHealth’s solutions are integrated with all major EHR vendors, enabling care providers to monitor patients at the unit, hospital and system-level.

PeraHealth CEO Stephanie Alexander, who joined the company in 2012 after almost 30 years at Premier Inc. working in healthcare informatics, was hired in 2012 to continue the company’s journey from research and validation to commercialization. She says both Rothman brothers are very strong data scientists, one involved in modeling and the other in data visualizations. ”They are impressive fellows,” she says. “This company is only in existence due their personal story.”

Stephanie Alexander

Many hospitals use the Rothman Index in their efforts to battle sepsis. “That is a key example of how it is used,” Alexander says. “Sepsis is one of those conditions that can sneak up on you in the hospital. All hospitals are working on ways to get early information to determine if a patient is at high risk of sepsis.”

Before Alexander joined, the small company was called Rothman Healthcare. The brothers had validated the model itself at several hospitals and started to build the prototype of the software. They also had applied for a patent. “But they had not had the model peer-reviewed by physicians,” she says. “That was something we needed to do.”

Once articles about the model began appearing in publications such as the Journal of Biomedical Informatics, the company decided it was time for a new moniker, PeraHealth, and it was also time to develop a platform to make it scalable software technology. “We had to prove that our scalable technology could interface with multiple EHRs, including Epic, Cerner, and Meditech,” Alexander says.

“I made a strategic decision with the board that we would not put a large investment into the company until our customers had very significant outcome changes,” Alexander recalls. “That was our third milestone. We attribute our growth to Yale New Haven Health and Houston Methodist, which ended up with 30 percent or more reduction in mortality, to include reductions in sepsis mortality. Those results were peer-reviewed and presented at national conferences.”

 At the beginning of 2017, PeraHealth secured $14 million in venture capital funding to grow its staff in customer service and clinical adoption and for research and development. The company currently has about 50 employees.

“We are using the funding to improve the software,” Alexander says. Enhancements include a telehealth and remote monitoring solution and a mobile app that tracks and identifies at-risk patients for clinicians on the go. “Our customers are driving enhancements for different use cases such as bed management,” she adds.

Alexander says that because the tool is valuable in so many care settings, there is plenty of room for growth. “This is a clinical decision support application unlike most in that it is disease-agnostic and also agnostic to the type of hospital, so there is a wide market for us to go after.”

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