Austin Health Tech company earns newest interoperability certification, prepares to double in size ahead of national expansion next year

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Health Symmetric’s SocialCare first platform to earn certification for both system-to-system and person-to-person interoperability

In 2008, Danny Chu sold his internet video company to Adconion Media Group, helping grow it to one of the top online video distribution networks of its time. Based on that success, his brother made what seemed like a simple request of his tech-savvy sibling: look at the electronic medical records systems out there and suggest one he should use in his now-2,000-member physician association. It didn’t take Chu long to realize that none lived up to the technological advances seen in other industries and with that, he found his next mission: using open innovation to propel healthcare into the digital age.

Fast forward to today and Danny Chu is Founder & CEO of Health Symmetric, a three-year-old start-up with 30 employees in Austin. The company has earned two rounds of funding, the second of which was 10 times the first, demonstrating the growing confidence of investors and the potential they see in its open API platform, SocialCare, and its team. A key tenant of SocialCare, and distinction from most systems in the market, is that from day one it was developed using open APIs and the new language of healthcare interoperability, the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR).

Chu explained, “We’ve been quietly working on our platform and technology for more than three years, incorporating the perspectives of both clinical professionals and those in the business of medicine. Along the way, we’ve earned customers and supporters, including one of the largest ACOs in the country and industry leaders in the surgery center market. They have brought us not only crucial insights, but also large user bases, both of which help us ensure the platform we’re building is useful to the industry we aim to serve and attractive to the health tech development community we aim to support.”

On Dec. 15, 2016, SocialCare earned the latest certification for bidirectional interoperability from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). Referred to as the “2015 Edition Health IT Module,” the certification was conferred by The Drummond Group, an Authorized Certification Body that has been empowered to test software for compliance with the requirements of the federal government’s program. SocialCare is the first platform to earn this most recent certification for both system-to-system interoperability via open APIs and also person-to-person interoperability through direct, secure email messaging.

“This is a major milestone for SocialCare and the health tech community because it opens up a world of options for both providers and developers,” said Chu. “We are not the first company to tackle interoperability but we are the first to do it exclusively on an open API platform and we believe that it’s crucial to driving the innovation needed to move from data capture into meaningful information exchange. For medical providers, this means they do not have to change EMRs to comply with shifting regulatory requirements, saving significant time and dollars. For developers, SocialCare provides a platform that already meets rigorous federal compliance requirements and has a built-in user base to which they can market solutions.”

The requirements Chu cites refer to a change that took effect beginning this month in the way physicians must interact with patient information to earn reimbursements from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). On Jan. 1, 2017, Medicare launched the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), a bipartisan initiative distinct from the Accountable Care Act that requires providers to demonstrate not only capturing and protecting patients’ information, but also exchanging it among providers and systems for better care coordination to support individuals’ health and population health at large.

“MACRA ups the ante in terms of requirements for information exchange among medical providers. Many hope to rely on their EMR system to fulfill that need, but most were built on the premise of collecting and controlling information, not exchanging it, so their functionality can be limited,” said Kristin H. Norton, PhD, Director of Business Development for Health Symmetric and President-Elect of the Austin chapter of the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS). “SocialCare was built on the premise of a flexible, secure platform, not a closed system. Now that we’ve achieved certification for true interoperability, we’re poised to bring that capability to both providers and the vendors that serve them.”

Looking ahead, Health Symmetric plans to expand its footprint across the nation, leveraging the SocialCare platform to provide the interoperability, innovation and security that patients, providers and regulators now demand. In the near term, the company is seeking to aggressively grow its team in Austin, hiring key executives, developers and other personnel, to more than double in size this year. Late in 2017, Health Symmetric plans to seek a third round of funding, expanding from its current strategic investor base to institutional investors to fuel its nationwide expansion.

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Sylvester Palacios
Pierpont Communications, Inc.
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