I had a chance to talk to Tonic Health‘s CEO Sterling Lanier at HIMSS 2015 about what he calls the “world’s best patient data collection platform.” Unlike the paper forms we are all used to or even many of the forms embedded in portals, Tonic uses contextually relevant graphics together with the text so patients want to keep on participating in the data collection process. Sterling told me Tonic is trying to create the psychological effect “that has patients thinking ‘I can’t wait to see what they ask me next’.” We try, he says “not to make data collection such a dreadful process.” We believe that if “we create high patient engagement, we will collect better data; if we collect better data, our users can do something really meaningful with that data that we are pushing back in real time.” Tonic’s mission is to help health systems know more about their patients so they can treat them better at a lower cost.
You can use the Tonic platform for almost every purpose in which patient data collection is part of the process. It lets you create, edit and manage all manner of surveys, forms, and questionnaires ranging from patient satisfaction surveys, patient intake forms, risk assessments, and patient-reported outcomes. You can also use it for research studies and clinical trials.
When tonic is used for risk assessments or scoring algorithm all in real time at the point of care, it automatically pulls up a video from Elsevier, the largest patient education library on the planet [Note: We also interviewed Elsevier’s CMO at HIMSS, learn more here]. Every video and all patient education materials directly target the needs of the patients and personalize it on an n=1 basis. It’s all about getting the “right education, at the right time, on the right device, to the right patients—all in real time.”
You can use Tonic in any healthcare setting—clinic, office, hospital, or system-wide—or on the run or at home. They have a native iPad app, a native Android app, a web version so you can push surveys, forms, and questionnaires out to patients in the home, and an iPhone version to send to patients on the go.
Because the surveys, forms, and questionnaires are fully customizable by the user (doesn’t require IT support to do it), Sterling likens the platform to a Lego set. He says his users are “master Lego builders” who can build data collection instruments that have the look and feel they want.
Integration with EHRs
Data is collected via an HIPAA compliant interface engine that can “output’ data in a number of different forms, including an HL7 message, a SOAP-based API, or a Continuity of Care Document (CCD) that can be inputted directly into the EHR. Equally important, Tonic can pre-populate surveys and forms with data from the EHR so patients are not required to fill out information they have already given to their providers. Once the patient fills out the form and submits the information (whether to the EHR, a back-end database, or the Tonic cloud), the data is erased—none of it is stored on the device.
Hear from a Tonic power-user:
Tonic power-user, Pamela Duncan, Ph.D, Professor of Neurology and Director of Transitional Outcomes at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, joined our conversation to explain how she is using the Tonic platform to do performance assessments of patients, including functional status, cognitive performance, social status, and financial resources for managing health.
The bottom line
There is no reason for clinicians to be asking patients to fill out forms with information they have already provided a zillion times. And, there is no reason why data collection should be time-consuming and boring. This is simply not the way the rest of our lives work anymore. Kudos to Tonic Health for rethinking a basic, but important process in healthcare—patient data collection.