Health Tech Panelists Say Digital Healthcare in New Orleans is Growing

While consumers are showing more interest in wearable health devices and entrepreneurs are proposing novel ways to cut cost in the medical system, there are still several opportunities (and obstacles) for players in the digital health sector according to the participants of Tuesday’s healthcare tech panel at the life science entrepreneurship conference, Innovation Louisiana.

Innovation Louisiana The panelists include VoiceHIT CEO Dr. Peter Ragusa, LHCQF Director Colby LeMaire, and Alisa Chestler, attorney at Baker Donelson Attorneys.

The conversation, led by Health 2.0 Founder Rahlyn Gossen, looked at opportunities to improve the current healthcare sector. All panelists agreed that increasing patient portals in the medical system is crucial “to empower patients and allow them to take control of their own health.”

LeMaire spoke on his personal frustrating experience as a parent when patient information was not disclosed, but looks to the future positively.

“Now as consumers, as patients, as parents, this data is opening up to us, and we can use our own education, our own insight, and our own passion for our families to help drive better outcome. We’re going to close the gap on a lot of things that were formerly missed.” By allowing patients to see what doctors and nurses see, they can correct inaccuracies and be proactive in their health.

Another important opportunity according to Dr. Ragusa is aggregating health data from many disparate systems (i.e. Nike FuelBand, Fitbit Force) into a singular location for healthcare providers. VoiceHIT is one of the current companies looking to connect these dots on the backend and integrate it into patient health records.

Yet, digital health entrepreneurs today will struggle because many hospitals are currently feeling “EHR (Electronic Health Record) fatigue.” Many healthcare providers are feeling nickel and dimed by the new EHR regulations, which, while encouraged with a carrot incentive under Meaningful Use, has an ominous stick if compliance is not met in the near future. EHR fatigue is so pervasive that the VoiceHIT technology, which contains hundreds of functionalities that equip it to be an EHR, focuses almost solely on their unique strength: an automated data collector which prepopulates documentation during a clinical encounter.

When asked about the unique landscape of New Orleans for health tech, the panelists point out pros and cons. On the con side, Louisiana has some state laws that limit certain components of digital health like tele-health because the state mandates that a licensed health professional is onsite during health-related encounters.

Yet, all panelists agreed that New Orleans has shown important milestones in digital healthcare. Of the 1800 health providers that LHCQF is working with, LeMaire states that 1400 are now live on an EHR and many of those are acquiring incentives through Meaningful Use. This transition has caught the attention of national figures such as Todd Parks, the United States CTO, who has recently visited Louisiana and is impressed with the development. Panelists seem to agree that digital health seems to be a vehicle that is driving the national perception of New Orleans as a technological hotbed, allowing us to live up to our name as the Silicon Bayou.