Healthcare Innovation Prize Goes To Startup

Axial Exchange's Care Transition Suite helps keep patients safer by improving the transference of critical patient data during hospital discharges.
12 EHR Vendors That Stand Out
12 EHR Vendors That Stand Out
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Axial Exchange, Inc., won first place in the Ensuring Safe Transitions from Hospital to Home innovation competition. The contest called for software developers to create ground-breaking approaches that enhance care coordination through the exchange of critical patient data after patients are sent home from the hospital, nursing home, or hospice.

The Raleigh, N.C.-based company was one of three winners announced this week in the competition, which was organized by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), in conjunction with the Partnership for Patients--an initiative of the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)--and with the support of Health 2.0. ONC named three winning teams: Axial Exchange, which won $25,000 for placing first; iBlueButton, second-place winner and recipient of $10,000; and VoIDSPAN, which won $5,000 for third place.

"For a young startup like Axial, the competition offers a tremendous opportunity for national visibility, and instant validation of our mission," John Mattox, co-founder and vice president of products at Axial Exchange, told InformationWeek Healthcare. "In the few hours since we were announced as the winner, we've received inbound inquiries from some of the most well-known healthcare institutions in the country. The contest is absolutely delivering on its promise to help promote innovation."

Care Transition Suite, Axial's winning entry, is a Web-based application that lets providers located in the next care setting access patient data. The information helps them engage patients and enhances patient involvement in post-discharge care.

[ Legally, EHRs are double-edged swords: They protect clinicians from malpractice litigation but also put them at greater risk. See Will Your EHR Land You In Court? ]

Axial's Care Transition Suite, which works with tablets, smartphones, and laptops, was recognized by ONC for bridging care-transition gaps across the entire care-delivery chain, from first-responders and hospitals to providers and patients at the time of discharge. The software addresses the difficulties that occur when vital patient information is lost in care provider hand-offs--gaps that compromise quality of care and costs.

The iBlueButton application, which placed second, provides patients and caregivers with immediate access to critical personal health information at home and at the point of care. The intuitive mobile app runs on mobile phones and tablet computers, and offers automated and secure access, anywhere and anytime, to online health records and additional resources. The iBlueButton app also lets patients easily "push" records from their device to their providers.

Third-place winner VoIDSPAN was rewarded for its ability to integrate voice, SMS text messages, and Web technologies into a mobile application designed to help target patients at high risk of relapse. The app uses structured inpatient and outpatient data and data from local electronic medical records and health information exchanges, and integrates with other available community resources.

The Ensuring Safe Transitions from Hospital to Home Challenge, which was launched in September under ONC's Investing in Innovation (i2) program, encourages software developers to design tools that empower patients and caregivers with information to manage care after a patient has been discharged. In addition to incorporating other data sources and available services, software developers were expected to design tools that made use of the discharge checklist made available by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The competition is part of HHS' push to reduce errors and complications and, in turn, prevent hospital readmissions. Medicare spent an estimated $26 billion in 2009 to care for patients who had been readmitted to the hospital. Federal government statistics also show that nearly one in five patients discharged from a hospital will be readmitted within 30 days.

When are emerging technologies ready for clinical use? In the new issue of InformationWeek Healthcare, find out how three promising innovations--personalized medicine, clinical analytics, and natural language processing--show the trade-offs. Download the issue now. (Free registration required.)

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