Embracing Innovation Through Crowdsourcing

One year ago, we announced the winners of Allscripts’ Open App Challenge. In keeping with anniversary tradition, we’re going to do a bit of reminiscing, starting from the beginning.

Health Tech is a Team Sport

In 2012, Allscripts announced a new innovation initiative to integrate new features into their EHR. More specifically, they wanted innovation that would focus on the high cost of chronic illnesses and value-based imperatives. To accelerate development, Allscripts began to look to outside developers. Their first attempts led them to deal with companies one at a time, which they found to unproductive for yielding the quantity and quality of novel features that they were hoping for.

In an interview with Health 2.0, Stanley Crane (Allscripts’ Chief Innovation Officer) likened the decision to open their API to a broad audience of developers to Ford Motors sourcing the components of their automobiles. “Imagine if Ford motor company said, ‘We’re so worried about the quality of our cars that we’re going to build everything ourselves’”. Ford building every part of their car would be ridiculous. Instead, Stanley intends to make Allscripts an expert in sourcing the best around the world instead of vertical integration (doing everything themselves).Stanley would rather have Allscripts work with others, and bring something awesome to the market together and continued by saying “Health Tech cannot progress faster, until we start playing this as a team sport.”

With this mindset, Allscripts found that the Health 2.0 Developer Challenge Program was a perfect fit for their needs. Crowdsourcing ideas like this let Allscripts sample tons of ideas and features all at once! In addition, the Developer Challenge team helped build and facilitate relationships between Allscripts and all of those innovators.

Sourcing technology to improve delivery

The challenge ran from October – August, drawing over 100 entries for Phase I and II.

First place for the challenge went to RefillWizard by HealthFinch. RefillWizard can automate prescription renewal, based on the individual protocol needs of its users. Doctors spend anywhere from 30 min to 1 hour per day refilling medication. Can you Imagine how much time this solution saves? You don’t have to. The numbers are in. RefillWizard reduces refill processing time per request to only 32 seconds. That reduces the time spent by doctors on this task by around 50%. Those are precious minutes that doctors can now allocate toward providing care, instead of clicking on forms.

HealthFinch and Allscripts have maintained their relationship since the challenge. You can see RefillWizard on Allscripts’ app store right now! In an interview with us, Jonathan Baron (HealthFinch CEO) described his post-win experience as a “whirlwind”, citing visibility as the most important part of the whole experience. That’s saying something, considering winning also came with a prize of $250,000.

How did the challenge affect Allscripts?

The Open App challenge had some great takeaways for Allscripts. For starters, they were able to vastly increase their developer base and improve their own developer program. This in turn, allows Allscripts to better serve their doctors, and thus improves quality of care for patients being delivered by technology.

Today, Allscripts has over 50 apps in its app store and is the #2 supplier in the healthcare information tech market. Allscripts has embraced its new identity as an aggregator of amazing ideas, and its open development program, and still maintains a good relationship with companies from the challenge by inviting them to the annual Allscripts Client Experience conference. The Health 2.0 Developer Challenge program helped them build up the marketplace that supplements Allscripts third party developer products. This enables them to constantly improve their existing products with new and simple ideas. Allscripts continues to be a leader for innovation and open development and is sponsoring this year’s annual Health 2.0 San Francisco code-a-thon on September 20-21st.


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