PALOMAR POMERADO HEALTH
CEO: Michael H. Covert.
Chairman of the board: Theodore E. Kleiter.
Annual budget: $480 million.
No. of local employees: 4,000.
Headquarters: Carmel Mountain Ranch area of San
Year founded: 1933.
Mission of organization: To provide health care
services to North County residents.
Come this fall, doctors on the go can be doctors in the know at
least in North County.
Palomar Pomerado Health, in a partnership with Silicon Valley
technology giant Cisco Systems Inc., is developing a wireless
communications system to allow physicians to keep track of their
patients on smart phones.
The system, dubbed MIAA, or medical information anytime,
anywhere, is now in the early pilot stages. Along with Cisco, PPH
demonstrated MIAA at the annual Healthcare Information and
Management Systems Society gathering Feb. 21 in Orlando, Fla.
MIAA feeds a patients vital information, such as blood pressure,
heart rates and other signs, to doctors even when they cant be at
The data pops up on doctors mobile devices, so theyre able to
make treatment decisions when they cant see the patients in
Its a very early stage prototype, said Dr. Ben Kanter, PPHs
chief medical information officer and a practicing physician.
Health Records in Real Time
MIAA uses Googles Android operating system, which is found on
tens of millions of telephone devices and those new computing
Using the in-house application, PPH hopes to provide patient
health records, as well as radiological images, electrocardiogram
readings and vital signs, in real time.
PPH and Cisco are working with San Diego-based startup Sotera
Wireless Inc., which is awaiting U.S. Food and Drug Administration
approval for a portable device that monitors and relays vital signs
to remote devices, such as smart phones.
In early tests, Kanter said his team has been able to pull dummy
records from the three vendors serving area hospitals: Cerner
Corp., Healthcare Information Systems Inc. and the U.S. Department
of Veterans Affairs.
Our goal will be to spin off (MIAA) as a separate company, said
Andy Hoang, spokesman for PPH, which operates Palomar Medical
Center and Pomerado Hospital in North County. We will be looking
for professional investors to come in. There is nothing out there
Kanter said of PPHs 800 doctors on staff, 250 work directly with
patients in the hospital and clinics, and would be the first to use
MIAA once deployed.
The technology does not require regulatory approval, and has
cost $250,000 to develop to date, half funded by Cisco. PPHs share
came from funds set aside by the board to develop innovate
approaches to health care delivery.
Late Adopters of Technology
Hoang and Kanter noted that a big hurdle will be getting other
hospitals to adopt the technology, so that doctors are not limited
to PPH and its affiliates.
We dont like to share things, Hoang said. Were still very
He noted one challenge in pushing out the technology to other
systems is the glacierlike speed in making changes in how medicine
Health care is a late adopter of technology, said Hoang. Health
care systems dont like to exchange information.
Kanter said he hopes to work with Oakland-based Kaiser
Permanente, which claims to have a half-million members in San
Kaiser has pioneered the use of electronic medical recordkeeping
with the help of private vendor Epic Systems Corp., and claims to
have implemented the worlds largest electronic health record
systems with 8.6 million patient records.
Kanter said Palomar Pomerado Health is the only U.S. hospital
system thats developing its own software to monitor patients
remotely, though a number of companies are working on various
components of delivering patient data wirelessly.
Big Step on a Long Path
Tom Gehring, chief executive officer of the San Diego County
Medical Society, said doctors will readily adopt the technology if
its easy to use.
I think it is a fabulous idea, said Gehring. There is no
downside to it.
Dr. Eric Topol, who is the wireless expert at Scripps Health,
one of the largest health care providers in the county, said: This
is one step along a long path of what we need. It certainly sounds
like a nice application where they can look at a lot of data while
away from the patient.
But he cautioned that real-time delivery of such information as
vital signs isnt quite ready for daily use.
Topol said he also sees challenges in protecting patient privacy
and in having a computer system powerful enough to process the
information needed to make the app work.
But I applaud them for pushing the envelope on this, he said.
Its a big step forward.
Tom York is a contributing editor for
the San Diego Business Journal.