InformaTech enters ASP contention with portable medical record

September 13, 2000

Even as smart card technologies seek a toehold in the U.S. healthcare market, they already face steep competition from flash memory cards, another portable data storage medium. Flash memory cards offer much higher storage capacity than smart cards are

Even as smart card technologies seek a toehold in the U.S. healthcare market, they already face steep competition from flash memory cards, another portable data storage medium. Flash memory cards offer much higher storage capacity than smart cards are capable of—megabytes versus kilobytes—and greater durability, making them attractive for a variety of healthcare applications.

In fact, these features were a deciding factor for InformaTech, a wholly owned subsidiary of telemedicine vendor Kaneb Services, in forming an OEM partnership with flash vendor SanDisk to support its development of a portable electronic medical record. InformaTech successfully bid on a contract with the U.S. Army to develop the P-tag, a flash memory card that stores an updatable electronic medical record (EMR), complete with images.

According to Ron Richardson, vice president of eHealthcare Solutions for the Frederick, MD-based medical services division of InformaTech, the company’s PACS integration background brought home the importance of making medical images available for its portable EMR.

The firm is now taking the P-tag technology into the consumer market in partnership with start-up firm Global TeleImaging (GTI). The consumer P-tag is being offered in conjunction with a Web-based patient record called PatientPower that is controlled by the patient. The first commercially available applications using the PatientPower database—Global-ER and My Medical Folder—put an emergency medical record and a personal health record on the P-tag and on the Internet, respectively.

The subscription-based PatientPower product line is InformaTech’s first foray into the application service provider market, a major focus for the firm going forward, according to Dave Lyche, director of operations. The firm is looking to take its PACS and telemedicine consulting to an ASP model, targeting small to mid-sized community hospitals and private practices.

GTI has been beta-testing PatientPower in Maryland, Virginia, and the Washington, DC, metropolitan area for the past two and a half years, the last year of which has been a free pilot program. The partnership with InformaTech was finalized sometime last year, and the company has been integrating the P-tag technology with the PatientPower cold fusion database ever since.

Because PatientPower is based on the notion that people own their own medical data, the firms are also marketing directly to consumers through the GTI Web site.

The firm is looking to its Lan2Go product as a way to provide applications that will dovetail into its ASP strategy. Lan2Go, a wireless stand-alone network, was originally developed for remote communications, according to Richardson. The product offers a rapidly deployable wireless network with data, voice, video, and satellite uplink capability and has a 6-to-10-mile range.

In the healthcare sector, Lan2Go has been used in emergency disaster areas by FEMA and insurance companies to provide wireless network access for inputting and retrieving data. Further healthcare applications include streamlining PACS and telemedicine installations by providing adequate bandwidth and eliminating the need for network infrastructure upgrades.

According to Richardson, InformaTech had $62 million in revenue last year. The firm is pursuing a combination of strategic alliances, partnerships, acquisitions, and internal development to increase its healthcare market share. InformaTech’s parent, Kaneb, entered the IT sector in 1996 and formed its medical IT division in 1998.