Product Spotlight: OneTouch EMR – An EMR By A Doctor For Doctors

Dr. Robert Abbate, CEO and Founder of OneTouch EMR, a top rated electronic medical records platform with, talks about his journey as a HealthTech Entrepreneur.

1. What personal or professional experiences influenced creating OneTouch EMR? 

I was a self taught programmer who had experience with my own web hosting company before starting with medical school. After getting out of residency in 2009, when I was looking to start my own practice, I came to the realization that the EHRs available in the market were difficult to use, not intuitive and charting was time consuming. I wanted to have the time to talk to the patients and not just have my face glued to a computer screen.

On top of this, the price tag involved in a lot of these systems was incredibly steep and it was a lot of money that the doctor would have to lay out to get started with the software platform.

This was also the time the first iPad was released which, to my mind, was a revolutionary idea that got me thinking. I started dabbling in touch-based technologies to see if I could come up with a better solution for myself. I was fortunate that I was hired by a urgent care center that was brand new so I had a little time to myself and the result was a rudimentary prototype.

I showed it to my colleagues and they were very impressed with the sheer intuitiveness of the software. We started reaching out to other doctors and offered them a 5 year software license and $25,000 minimum investment to fund the company as we continued to build it, beta-test it and release the final product to the world which finally took place in 2011.

2. Which particular problem(s) are you aiming to solve?

Back when we launched, cloud based systems were non-existent so the software ended up being very bulky. We wanted to come up with a subscription based, software-as-a-service model which allowed us to get the doctors get started on EMR at a fraction of cost.

The other important problem for us was time. We wanted doctors to be able to spend more time with the patients, charting faster. Another major problem was flexibility. The existing EMRs were very confusing and difficult to use. I wanted to make it flexible since I understood that every doctor’s practice is slightly different with different preferences about how they like to do things.

3. How do you think OneTouch EMR can address this?

Our motto lies in 3Fs – familiar, flexible and fast. The workflow is familiar, the doctor can understand it since its like we’re taught in medical school. It is flexible so that they can change it to suit their needs and the charting much faster allowing doctors to spend time interacting with patients rather than being glued to their computer screens.

4. What were the hurdles you faced while bringing OneTouch EMR to life, and how did you overcome them?

We were competing with some big companies while trying to get to the market faster. It is very difficult to get directly to the doctors so we adopted a model of building a partnership with other businesses which already had relationship with doctors like billing platforms and PMS. We built an interface with HL7 to communicate with billing platforms and practice management systems.

This really helped propel the business but then we hit a bumps along the road. We ended up missing out on some opportunities along the way through no fault of our own. We got a fairly good start but market penetration has been one of the biggest challenges for us.

5. What do the next 12-months hold for you?

Years ago, practitioners were moving away from independent practice to group and hospital-based models. Now we’re seeing a disillusionment with being an employee and are moving back into independent practice. For the next 12 months, we are focusing on small practitioner’s practice.

We are also offering our platform for free to medical students from certain medical school which helps with our brand recognition. We believed that after the meaningful use came out, the adoption of EHRs would grow and it did. We make sure that we keep up with our certifications for that.

6. How do you see digital healthcare evolving?

AI offers a great opportunity and we are currently looking at partnering with a company that can take notes and put it all together for the provider. This technology is certainly something we’re going to participate in the future.

7. What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were starting out as a HealthTech entrepreneur?

I would say just be open to experiences. Since I came from a medical background, I was not an experienced CEO. I did hire a very experienced operations manager who has taught me a lot over the years. I wish I had the knowledge that I have now back then. I would have been able to grow the company better, faster and be more lean from an operational standpoint.

About the founder: 

Dr. Robert Abbate, the Founder and CEO of OneTouch EMR, is at a unique confluence of tech and medicine. Dr Abbate was first a software engineer, then decided to go to Medical School.
After leaving residency, he started his practice and learned quickly about how difficult EHRs are to use since they are designed by developers and not medical practitioners. He sought to build a better EHR which had a familiar workflow that doctors understand, and was faster to chart than most other EHR systems by including a more intuitive design interface, and thus OneTouch EMR came about.