WellSheet, a clinical decision support startup, has closed a Seed round to add some software engineering talent as it rolls out pilots at practices using Cerner and athenahealth. Craig Limoli, the CEO and cofounder of the startup, shared the health IT company’s plans in a phone interview.
Funding for the $800,000 round came from Real-Life Innovations, Newark Venture Partners, and BioAdvance. WellSheet took part in NVP’s accelerator program as well as The New Jersey Innovation Institute Health IT Connections program to hone its go-to-market strategy, according to a news release.
The company’s algorithms prioritize data for specific physicians based on their specialty and individual needs. The goal is to present a more intuitive view of the information physician needs to know.
Although Limoli said WellSheet uses artificial intelligence in the form of machine learning he said his company takes a conservatively optimistic approach to the technology. He noted that prior to getting his MBA at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, he was a strategy consultant at IBM Watson Health.
“I am familiar with the hype machine and why some implementations have struggled. AI has been positioned as the tool that can solve all problems omnisciently.”
Limoli makes no such high falutin claims about his own company’s technology. He contrasted his company’s approach as trying to address how to create a solution that will fit well with workflows and meld into them so that it’s easy to use. WellSheet’s approach to AI involves focusing on what a physician is doing on a daily basis.
“APIs have been a huge boon for us in getting to market in a scalable manner,” Limoli said.
WellSheet takes best practice guidelines and identifies the most appropriate ones by scanning the patient’s record to provide contextualized guidance, determining what is most urgent, relevant, and actionable. Limoli highlighted a pilot with a neurology practice, one of four pilots it is doing with athenahealth. Although he acknowledged the 500 layoffs at the EHR vendor were unfortunate and had created some disruption, WellSheet has already done the technical integration work.
He noted that neurology guidelines are particularly difficult to track. Each patient comes in with a particular neurological disorder and there are thousands of guidelines to sort through.
The company’s technology also predicts what labs and medication may be needed for patients. The goal is to reduce the burden of doing documentation.
The risk of these kinds of decision support tools is that they don’t take a physician’s experience into consideration and that a one size fits all approach risks undermining treatment. Limoli countered that by analyzing and tracking the doctors’ decisions make over time, its technology gets smarter. Over time it could develop a more nuanced understanding of the best treatment approaches for particular patients.
Looking ahead to the next year, WellSheet has its first major pilot using Cerner with RWJBarnabas Health — a 10,000 doctor health system, starting January 20.
The next strategic goal is to launch a pilot with a hospital using Epic and expects that will happen sometime in the first half of next year.
Photo: Pakhnyushchyy, Getty Images
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