Autonomy is about to start delivering doctors what they really want with health IT, namely help.
Meaning Based Healthcare is designed to provide diagnostic help as soon as it's installed, and to improve that help as it's fed Electronic Medical Record (EMR) data.
"An EMR on its own will not bring about improvements in patient safety, in cost, in quality," said Joseph Britto, the company's head of medical technologies. "It's like the cable in your home."
What's needed, he said, is the kind of help Bloomberg terminals gave stock traders, a set of analytic tools that tell them what the data means and what should be done about it.
"What we do is we're able to search for patterns within EMR, medical textbooks and journals" on diagnosing, ordering tests, and monitoring treatment.
So unlike other vendors, who can't provide value to doctors until the practice is committed to overhauling their entire back office, Autonomy provides value right away.
"We're able to leverage your EMR patterns, or if you're starting we use the content repositories and silos you have access to," said Britto.
Britto's analogy for all this is the GPS device. What began as a separate unit is now integrated with the dashboard on new cars. "On the road you know when you're lost. In health care we don't know what we don't know when we don't know it." But Autonomy hopes to tell you.
If Americans are familiar with Autonomy, which is based in both Cambridge, England and San Francisco, it's as a "shirt sponsor" for the London soccer club Tottenham Hotspur.
Autonomy evolved its new offering with technology that Britto, who is based in England helped develop at Isabel Healthcare, automating checklists.
"When people are starting off without an elaborate EMR system our platform can handle their intelligent rules. When EMR is present we are able to deliver value within it," he said.
He then issued a challenge to his medical colleagues. "We're at an inflection point. We're the last knowledge sector to get digitized. And we're the most knowledge intensive."
Told that many doctors say they would rather retire than automate, Britto admitted "It's a generational thing. You talk to the digital generation and it's a no-brainer. I talk to medical schools, and the conversation is changing. Yes, they know there must be usability and interoperability. But we can't go on as we have.
"Some 100,000 Americans die every year from preventable medical error. The way toward improvement is improving decisions.
"Some 15% of patients are misdiagnosed. That's the tip of the iceberg. That's 1 in 7. If a pilot told you they had a 1 in 7 chance of landing at the wrong airport we wouldn't take the chance.
"You can have the best word processing software, the best calculator software, but that doesn't make you an expert. These systems will only enable a better quality deicsion. Finance has adopted decision support – why are we in medicine the last to adopt data-driven decision making?"