With the increasing prevalence of electronic health records and connected medical devices, physicians are forced to manage overwhelming amounts of clinical data everyday. Clinicians spend hours in front of computer screens, filing through test results, patient histories, and provider notes, in search of relevant, up-to-date information necessary for medical decisions.
Boston-based startup, Herald Health, may have found a way to alleviate this data overload.
Herald Health aims to alert physicians with important, timely, and customizable clinical information through push notifications. Instead of requiring doctors to constantly monitor patient vitals or check for completed lab results, Herald is designed to work with electronic health records and notify healthcare providers of meaningful changes in medical profiles.
“The data overload problem that clinicians face every day is a major contributor to medical errors that come from delays in treatment or failure to pick up on clinical information,” Matt Fujisawa, one of four co-founders of Herald Health, said. “With Herald Health, we have created intelligent push notifications that doctors can customize according to what they need. Instead of doctors having to manually pull the information, we can push it to them when they need it.”
The ability to customize notifications on a case-by-case basis is one of the most unique functions of Herald. For example, a physician monitoring a patient with angina could create a personalized ‘protocol’ that issues an alert if his or her troponin levels surpass 0.35 ng/mL. Other users can then create their own protocols or modify existing ones to best suit their needs.
“Customizability is the big value-add of our product,” CEO and co-founder of Herald Health, Dr. Bradford Diephuis, said. “Herald allows for a very bottom-up approach, [in which] users get to decide what it is that they care about.”
The idea for Herald Health emerged from the personal clinical experiences of medical doctors Diephuis and Craig Monsen. After the former college roommates discussed their mutual dissatisfaction with the abundance of medical data doctors face, they began thinking of solutions.
“The idea came out of one of [our] brainstorm discussions, and, honestly, it was an idea that we had kicked around for at least a year,” Diephuis said. “I didn’t go to medical school to spend time pulling data out of medical records, but rather to take care of patients, and I think most doctors would agree with that sentiment. […] So, [Craig and I] compared notes about things that didn’t work well in the hospital; we wanted to make hospitals more efficient.”
Then, along with Harvard Business School classmates, Matthew Fujisawa and Dr. Andrew Hillis, Diephuis and Monsen entered the idea into the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Digital Health Hackathon.
“At the hackathon, we developed a very preliminary version of the product,” Fujisawa said. “Since then, a lot of work has been done by our team on developing a robust product that we can put into doctors’ hands and have every confidence that it’ll do what it needs to do.”
Funded primarily through competition prize money, the company is now working on the execution of a nine-month pilot program at BWH. By fully integrating Herald into an up and running hospital setting, the team hopes to validate its efficiency and practicality. According to Diephuis, the pilot will also be helpful in garnering user feedback and statistical data that will facilitate a better understanding of the key strengths and weaknesses of the product. The team hopes to use these results to enhance the Herald model further and expand its range to other hospitals.
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