Cathie Reid, managing director at EPIC Digital, is an entrepreneur and pharmacist who has blazed trails across the healthcare and pharmacy sector.
Now she has turned her attention to giving both patients and health professionals full and timely access to patient records with the goal of delivering better, more personalised healthcare.
EPIC Digital was founded specifically to address the siloed nature of data in the healthcare industry identified by Ms Reid, a member of the Australian Businesswomen’s Hall of Fame and whose business acumen has also been recognised by The Australian Financial Review’s Women of Influence awards.
Together with her husband and business partner Stuart Giles, Ms Reid has built one of Australia’s largest suppliers of pharmaceutical and clinical services for the hospital, oncology and aged care sectors; EPIC Pharmacy Group.
“We created EPIC Digital because we could see a need within our businesses for a digital play that could resolve some of the pain points we’ve had in terms of patient data. We reasoned they were likely to be pain points for other health operators as well,” Ms Reid explains.
She realised there was a need to bring information about patients into a singular point that could be controlled by patients and accessible by clinicians.
The consolidator piece, a year in the making, is EPIC Digital’s foundation program Health Director, hosted by Microsoft Azure. This collates medical data from a variety of sources and holds it in a format that can move through various output methods.
EPIC Digital worked with an Israeli Microsoft partner, Sela, on the database architecture. From the outset, Sela was keen to build the product on Azure.
“Azure came to Australia at a perfect time for us,” Ms Reid says. “It hit the market right at the time when we were looking for a solution.”
EPIC Digital became part of the BizSpark program which gave the company access to all it needed to get the best out of Azure. Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), Microsoft’s multi-tenant cloud based directory and identity management service, was particularly important as the year long development took shape.
The first application to run off the Health Director platform will be a medication adherence product, Medication Manager.
Incredible as it sounds in this age of instant access to all sorts of information, when people want access to their medication history, they generally have had to go to their pharmacist and get a hard copy.
From February, however, that will change for all of the nursing home patients (and their family members) who are customers of the EPIC Group pharmacies. Medication Manager will effectively pull the information out of the pharmacy and put it in the patients’ control. Permission level settings will allow patients to determine who will have access. This could include family members, health professionals and community care providers.
The application can also send reminders to help people manage their medication on a daily basis, and escalate notifications if it appears a patient has missed a required dose.
Medical Manager is expected to be just the first cab off the rank. EPIC Digital sees many other opportunities to access and add to its cloud-based store of patient information, applications that can lead to more effective and personalised health care.
When a patient is prescribed a new medication that might increase the risk of a fall, for example, that patient could also start to use a sensor that would monitor posture. This could not only help to keep that patient safe but also contribute to a data store that could ultimately help many others as well by helping to qualify that risk of fall.
Similarly, EPIC Digital is examining the use of sensors that monitor patients’ vital signs with a view to flagging the onset of a virus or other condition that would mean a patient should postpone chemotherapy or other treatment.
At the moment, the decision to postpone is often not made until a patient has arrived for treatment and this can be terribly inconvenient and wasteful, Ms Reid says.
“Often the patient has had a family member who’s taken the day off work or the like to bring them in. And from the treatment provider point of view, we are left with a treatment that can’t be delivered.
“But if we could monitor those metrics in a non-invasive way for the patient, we could contact them proactively.
“The next steps are really about marrying the known data that we already have with data that’s now accessible through the Internet of Things. We can blend the two together to become much more proactive and much more targeted in the healthcare we’re delivering.”
International expansion is also a possibility with interest already coming from the UK and Europe, Ms Reid says.