Last month, the entrepreneurs launched Livongo Health to provide cloud-based mobile glucose monitoring and other services for diabetics. Tullman is Livongo's CEO.
Earlier this year, 7wire invested in Wiser Together (PDF), a healthcare website that enables individuals with a medical question or problem to crowd-source answers and recommendations from others with similar experiences.
The 7wire Ventures portfolio includes Zest Health, developer of a mobile health app that enables a consumer to speak with a nurse or other healthcare coordinator about a medical problem, schedule an appointment, pay a provider at the point of care or link to a consumer-friendly, self-diagnosis tool.
Tullman said he's convinced that individuals, forced to bear more financial risk for healthcare spending, will drive the adoption and use of these technologies to help them make better, more cost-effective decisions about their health—both wellness and care.
On the provider side, the greatest innovations in healthcare IT won't be in today's electronic health-record systems, which are “basically data repositories,” Tullman said, but in what he called the front-end and the back-end of those systems.
“Docs say the EHRs are hard to use on the front end and they don't get much analytics out of them” on the back end, he said.
On Wednesday, two key federal health information technology advisory panels approved the recommendations of a subcommittee that the federal government should push the healthcare industry toward a paradigm shift in the way health information is electronically accessed and shared by patients and providers.
Their recommendations included adopting a national health information architecture modeled on open Internet principles and reliant on “public APIs,” or application programming interfaces, essentially software that lets various programs communicate with each other and share information. APIs would, proponents say, give providers, researchers, consumers, mobile health application developers and entrepreneurs such as Tullman ready access to patient medical records ensconced in EHRs.
Not surprisingly, Tullman likes the idea.
If all of the banks in the world could agree to adopt a single standard for ATMs, healthcare ought to be able to do the same with accessing patient information, he said.
“The healthcare problem is not a technology problem,” he said. “This is a business problem.”
“Unfortunately, only the government” has the clout to force the healthcare industry into a consensus around those interoperability standards, Tullman said.
Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn