A couple of weeks ago Chilmark Research did a small piece on the need for HIE vendors to move beyond silo’d standalone exchanges to a Platform as a Service (PaaS) model. In the write-up, the HIE vendor Axolotl was mentioned for their recent announcement of a third party image viewing app that was now available on their platform. In speaking with Axolotl’s President, Glenn Keet, he stated that this was the first app of many that would eventually be hosted on the platform. As Keet rightly put it; there are far too many needs in healthcare for any one vendor to satisfy and that partnershps wil be critical moving forward.
As a result of that post, Chilmark received several private emails from HIE vendors all stating that they were on a similar track to Axolotl’s. One of those who contacted us was Covisint, who announced their AppCloud last week. (for more background on Covisint, see the piece we wrote over a year ago) written We had a briefing with Covisint late last week and Covisint was kind enough to send us their slide deck from the Healthcare IT Summit where they announced AppCloud.
In this first slide, Covisint lays out the key attributes of a PaaS model, both for independent software vendors (ISVs) and end-users (clinicians). Nothing wrong with those value propositions but I would add one for end users, ability to easily switch among various apps, say from one EMR solution to another. Covisint also left out one potential beneficiary, those hosting the HIE. As we mentioned in the previous PaaS post, far too many RHIOs do not have sustainable business models. Offering access to apps, conducting simple transaction services (reporting for meaningful use) etc. could provide these RHIOs with a steady revenue stream.
Now this is a great slide for it clearly shows how bringing together multiple solutions and services into one PaaS can facilitate a physician’s need to meet the multitude of “meaningful use” requirements. Another key benefit of the PaaS model is that a physician need only do a single sign-on to access all the apps and services on Covisint. This is both more secure and a lot easier to deal with then having to log-in separately to a multiple apps.
The AMA is Covisint’s lighthouse customer (early adopter) of the AppCloud concept and has been working closely with Covisint to build out these capabilities to serve their membership. The AMA has some pretty big plans for this service, including offering an EMR from AllScripts, but it remains to be seen just how extensive this service will ultimately be and more important, whether or not its membership will find value in it. AMA’s track record in the software arena is hardly stellar (Medem) and not convinced their venture here will succeed but wil give them credit for at least being creative and pushing the envelop.
While Chilmark Research may have been one of the first analyst firms to write on the topic of HIE vendors morphing into healthcare-centric PaaS, it appears that the vendors themselves have been spending some time thinking about this issue and how they can structure themselves to capitalize on this evolution in the market. The future battleground will likely be the fight for partners.
There are only so many stellar ISVs with broad brand recognition in the market. The Axolotls, Covisints, etc. will be out in the market courting the best-of-breed ISVs to build to their platform first and not a competitors. The skill and speed at which these HIE vendors can land those relationships will be a key metric to watch as this market, with $560M coming down the pike, shifts into high gear.