Seattle startup TransformativeMed has a major beef with how health record systems work — or rather, don’t work for doctors. When the systems were designed, “the most expensive commodity in the process was forgotten — and that’s the doctor,” said TransformativeMed CEO Doug Cusick. “No one gave a damn about the doctor.”
Cusick and his team care about the doctor and are building software to help make their lives easier. The startup, a spinout of the University of Washington, just raised a $5.8 million Series A funding round led by the Alliance of Angels.
GeekWire sat down with Cusick his co-founders this week at the company’s office in Seattle. Health systems “have spent billions of dollars with very little value delivered,” said Cusick, an industry veteran who previously led healthcare sales at Atigeo and Next Wave Connect. TransformativeMed wants to unlock the opportunity of electronic health record (EHR) systems and relieve the stress on doctors in the process.
It’s a well-known issue: 71 percent of physicians say that EHR systems contribute greatly to burnout, according to a 2018 survey from Stanford Medicine and Harris Poll.
TransformativeMed creates new ways of working within the health record systems that are tailored to a physician’s specialty — for instance, an obstetrician’s workflow will look vastly different than that of a pediatrician. It also makes specialty workflows for managing patients for specific diseases, such as diabetes. Rather than building applications on top of the EHR, the company’s software is embedded directly within it.
The eight-year-old startup currently supplies its software to 130 hospitals and health systems, including large providers like Tenet Healthcare, Ascension, MedStar and the University of Washington.
Because EHRs are designed as databases for entire health systems, they often don’t work well for day-to-day tasks. TransformativeMed wants to be the company that treats the doctor as the consumer, building tools that make tasks such as messaging and collaborating simple.
“We’re the finishers of the healthcare system information infrastructure,” said Dr. Erik Van Eaton, one of the company’s co-founders.
The startup was built on early work done by co-founder David Stone to make health record systems more usable. Stone spent a decade working on the University of Washington’s medical record system and even founded a developer’s conference focused on building apps for Cerner’s EHR.
Stone later joined with Van Eaton, who had seen the inefficiency of these systems first-hand as a surgeon at UW. The pair initially worked within the university and later spun out the company in 2012. Cusick joined as CEO in 2017.
One big point of focus going forward is mobile devices. The company wants to let doctors use smartphones just like they do in their everyday lives. That means handling messaging, reminders and note-taking on a device in a secure way that’s connected to the health record.
Big tech companies including Amazon and Microsoft have been creeping toward the EHR problem. Amazon has a product that mines EHR data for information that could improve care or cut costs. Microsoft earlier this year rolled out Microsoft 365 for health systems as well as an Azure API to help systems share data in the cloud.
“I think it’s awesome that Amazon and Microsoft are moving into the space,” said Van Eaton. The company doesn’t see these big players as competition, but rather as disruptors that could help TransformativeMed make new tools for doctors, such as those powered by artificial intelligence.
The new cash will primarily be used to support sales and marketing efforts. The startup is also working to bring improve its product, called CORES, for mobile use and is looking to expand in the Middle East. TransformativeMed has 30 employees and plans to add 20 more positions this year, primarily in sales and marketing.
To raise the new funds, TransformativeMed stayed local, taking in 90 percent of the round Seattle-area angel investors. “There’s been a lot of interest from people who’ve made money in these spaces who are like, ‘why isn’t Seattle finding ways to solve problems at the intersection of healthcare and software?'” said Stone.
Another Seattle startup, Xealth, is also creating software for EHR systems. The company recently raised $11 million to expand its platform for digital prescriptions, which can be anything from a medical device to an app for blood glucose monitoring.