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MyKinergy Takes Top Prize In Health IT Challenge

Health app claims $25,000 "Blue Button" prize for its cloud-hosted patient engagement tool.
7 E-Tools To Keep Patients Engaged
7 E-Tools To Keep Patients Engaged
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Kinergy Health, creator of the MyKinergy app, recently won the Patient Engagement Blue Button Challenge, sponsored by The Advisory Board Company. The challenge aimed to spur innovation by encouraging patients to broadly enroll in and use Blue Button--a Web-based feature that allows patients to securely access and download their health information from doctors, insurers, pharmacies, and other health-related entities. By downloading this information, patients are more easily able to share it with care providers.

"The Advisory Board had the vision to put out this challenge and say, 'How can we get patients to understand this Blue Button capability exists' and encourage them to take advantage of the fact they have the power over their own data," said Gail Embt, founder of Kinergy Health in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare. As of now, The Blue Button appears on the patient portals of more than one-third of U.S. hospitals. By the end of this year, Blue Button technology will give more than 60 million Americans access to their records.

Kinergy Health, founded in 2010 by Embt, focuses on elderly and chronically ill individuals. "We've always come at things from the patient and family perspective because at the end of the day, we believe delivering healthcare to the patient is only going to improve health outcomes so much," said Embt. "If the patient is unable to understand the information or directions, or [he/she] can't comply with what's being asked of them, the care delivery will fall down and the outcomes won't be improved."

[ For more background on e-prescribing tools, see 6 E-Prescribing Vendors To Watch. ]

To improve outcomes, Embt continued, both the family and the patient need to be at the center of "all care decisions," which was the thinking behind the MyKinergy app, she said. When developing the app, Embt and her team spoke to homecare professionals, assisted living professionals, doctors, and more, and they concluded an elderly patient is often supported by a child, typically of the baby boomer generation.

"That child tends to be more comfortable with technology and even eager to use something that allows them to stay in touch and stay in control from afar," Embt said. "So the MyKinergy service is a cloud-hosted, private, secure, HIPAA-conformant place where the patient or patient advocate can create a community specific to the patient." Once this happens, both the professionals and informal caregivers can help the patient understand information and help make appropriate decisions to execute a care plan, Embt continued.

"When you come into the system, one of the first places you come to is your centralized communication dashboard, where [the patient] sees communications from providers or family members who are engaged in [his or her] care," Embt said. Next, the patient is directed to the Blue Button feature, which gives him/her the option to find data, along with directions on how to download it.

Additionally, Embt said, the app is designed with the expectation that a provider or caregiver is available to hold a patient's hand through the process. "We make it so the data is available to the entire team," she said. Embt said this holistic approach to care management stemmed from doctor feedback regarding challenges they had with patients suffering from impaired thinking abilities.

For instance, said Embt, doctors recognized they often weren't seeing the whole picture in terms of medications patients were taking. "The provider was interested in the ability for the patient's caregivers to provide them with feedback on what's being taken, so he/she could look at that relative to the records they have and adjust treatment plans accordingly," she said.