(Photo courtesy of Noah Weiner)
Before he and his brother cofounded Avhana Health, Noah Weiner did a job similar to what his startup is doing while working for Johns Hopkins.
There was just one difference.
“I did exactly what we’re doing right now,” said Weiner, who is Avhana’s CEO. “I did it all manually.”
Working with electronic medical records, Avhana’s system adds efficiency to checklists and protocols that doctors follow in patient care. Instead of directing doctors to tome-like documents that explain protocols, Avhana aims to provide the physicians “only what they need to know.” It also streamlines the process to integrate new information.
Hopkins’ Epic medical record system is one of the largest in the industry, but Weiner found inefficiencies. “By the time they built 10 checklists, I had to go back to the first checklist and update it,” he said. “The guidelines were constantly changing.”
Doctors have to use the checklists, and even face fewer incentives if they don’t, reflecting a long-held healthcare industry maxim that the only way to change a physicians’ behavior is “money or mandate.”
As a result, Weiner believes they’ll want a more efficient system. As a startup CEO in the field as well as someone who’s personally interested in standardizing care, he wants to make it a requirement for doctors to use more efficient checklists.
And he already has the ear of policymakers.
Recently, Avhana helped the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Population Affairs test integration of new standards in three systems.
“It was especially amazing how quickly Avhana was able to establish connectivity for chlamydia screening CDS with Epic, Greenway, and Allscripts,” a blog post from the agency said.
The link to the federal government was a result of a connection Avhana made while going through the DreamIt Health incubator in 2014. The next step for Avhana is to test their system with physicians.
The startup is finalizing a partnership with a content vendor in San Francisco. Since they don’t create the clinical content themselves, the team is also looking for a hospital who will provide access for a pilot program. Avhana also has a little less than half committed for a $750,000 fundraising round, and also received a grant from TEDCO’s Technology Commercialization Fund.
By the end of the year, the company set a goal of being in 10 hospitals.
“That’s a really aggressive timeline” for a team of five, admits Weiner, who’s based at the Abell Foundation-owned former site of University Specialty Hospital in Inner Harbor.
But he thinks it’s reflective of how fast things will change once the technology is available.
“It’s very unique,” he said, adding, “it’s not sexy at all.”