Health IT

Docs & designers help bring to life a brother-sister duo’s vision for a “clinical first” EMR

Entrepreneurs Kyna and Conan Fong got their first taste of the business of healthcare as teenagers when they helped their father, a family physician, build his practice. Some decade-and-a-half later, they helped him transition to electronic medical records.

Through all of those experiences, they saw that technology had huge potential to transform the way care is delivered — if only it were being designed for the actual user. Instead, it was falling flat in the hands of physicians whose work flows and needs weren’t top priority in the design process.Kyna Conan Fong

The brother-and-sister duo has spent the past several years working with physicians, developers and designers to build ElationEMR, what they call the “clinical first approach” to the electronic medical record.

They were certainly aware that there’s no shortage of EMRs in the world today. But they had also seen firsthand physicians’ growing dissatisfaction with the technology. They wanted to produce an EMR that would actually help doctors rather than add to their frustrations.


So what did they do differently? For one, there was a lot of physician input along the way. Kyna counts her two years as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation scholar as a critical formative experience, while Conan spent years working with practices as a health IT consultant.

Another one of their top priorities was that Elation’s EMR be quick and easy to implement. Some EMR vendors recommend that physicians cut their patient load in half when starting implementation, but cutting productivity is the opposite of what technology should do, Kyna said. One of Elation’s proudest achievements has been creating an EMR that customers say requires no decrease in patient load and is intuitive enough to use in as little as an hour after it’s fully installed, she added.

And although it’s designed primarily for easy use by physicians, it’s still Meaningful Use certified.

Today, the company will begin rolling out an add-on service called the Elation Provider Network, which can help physicians identify other providers who have cared for a particular patient so that they can share information between them. With three clicks, a physician can send relevant clinical information from a patient’s chart securely to another provider, whether he’s an ElationEMR user or not.

Physicians can also use the network to see which other providers they collaborate with the most, or to find a new physician for patient referral who has worked with others in the Elation network.

ElationEMR Provider Network chart

Screenshot from the Elation Provider Network interface

“We can only do this because we have strong engagement inside the system,” Conan said. “Our physicians are using Elation for every aspect of care, whether the patient is in the exam room or they’re dealing with information coming into the office when the patient isn’t there.”

It may not have the user base of a Cerner or Epic or McKesson, but the San Francisco-based startup has found solid support among local providers and financial backing to the tune of $3.2 million from Aberdare Ventures, Kapor Capital, SV Angel and design firm IDEO.

Instead of targeting hospital customers, Kyna said Elation is best suited for smaller practices whose physicians have long-standing relationships with patients, and other specialties where physicians are likely to care for patients with chronic conditions.

“Our long-term success will be that, whenever a patient is being cared for, all of the relevant information is available to the right people at right time,” Kyna said. “If we’re going to get to a point of technology transforming the way patients receive care, it’s going to be essential for there to be tools that are embedded at the point of care and physicians feel it’s helping them, not distracting them.”

[Photos from ElationEMR]

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