In November, 2007, I was diagnosed with a serious heart condition, serious enough to require my continued treatment by some of the best doctors in Canada and beyond. These experts were required to collaborate on my treatment and prognosis. With so many healthcare providers adopting electronic medical records (EMR) systems, you would think that the exchange of patient data between doctors across a country, a continent, or even a city would be a snap.
You would be wrong.
This personal account of building a startup is written by Tony Curcio, Founder and Architect, siTechnologyGroup
Various systems run on various standards. Different doctors use different software tools. Privacy requirements create a challenge for transmitting patient data outside of the health system in which that data is stored. My doctors manage to collaborate, but it isn’t easy.
It should be, though, and this realization led me to a decision. I’d worked as a software developer for Fortune 500 firms for 12 years. I was ready for a new challenge, something I could feel passionate about. I had a young family that would only require me to make more conservative career choices as time went by. The time was right for me to start the company that could mean the difference between sickness and health for people like me.
I worked part-time on this idea for 18 months, while keeping my day job. I did a tremendous amount of research. I networked as broadly as possible. I developed and refined my ideas. In January, 2013, I launched siTechnologyGroup as a full-time venture.
Our solution for the challenge of medical collaboration is the siHealthPortal. It’s a scalable health IT ecosystem built using Windows Azure services, with companion apps powered by cloud-based patient data. The siHealthPortal has the ability to migrate existing EMR data from one platform to another. Like any bootstrapping startup, we are introducing apps for the portal individually, such as our clinic finder, which identifies the urgent care facilities nearest to a user and provides estimated wait times and directions, and our dosage calculator, which both patients and clinicians can use to calculate the proper dosages of common over-the-counter medications. As the platform matures, other developers will be able to use it to create their own healthcare apps.
Cloud computing is essential to the siHealthPortal, providing its scalability and geographic reach. We considered Amazon but decided it might not be stable enough for us. Windows Azure is part of a comprehensive platform of Microsoft technologies that would streamline development and enable a seamless whole—in our case, including Windows Azure SQL Database, HeathVault, Windows 8, and Windows Phone.
The combination of Windows Azure and BizSpark was really the best choice I could have made. It gave me the confidence that I could afford to go full-time despite the company’s limited funds. We were able to use Windows Azure, Visual Studio, the Microsoft Office suite, and more. And we received mentoring, networking with funders, marketing support, and other resources on which I couldn’t begin to put a value on.
Our portal launches this fall, so we’re still at a very early stage. But with Windows Azure and our relationship with Microsoft, the prognosis is for success.
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