PCEHR patent infringement claim has Perth link

A US company that is investigating a supposed infringement of its personal health record patents by the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) has a licensing deal with a Perth-based company called VisiInc, which markets a multi-file format viewer technology to a range of industries, including healthcare.

MMRGlobal announced in a press release last week that it was investigating whether the federal and state governments, through NEHTA, were infringing on several patents it owns, including two filed in Australia.

MMRGlobal said “it has been brought to the company's attention” that the Australian governments “appear to be infringing on patents … and other intellectual property” issued to its subsidiary, MyMedicalRecords.com.

The Australian patents – 2006202057 and 2008202401 – were granted in 2008 and 2010 respectively and cover a method for providing a consumer with the ability to access and collect health records through their own personal account.

The inventor is listed as MMRGlobal's CEO, Robert H Lorsch, a California-based businessman who once served on the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's (HIMMS) personal health record steering committee.

According to Forbes, Mr Lorsch also founded the Lorsch Creative Network, a consulting company that developed marketing, advertising and interactive sales promotions campaigns which is now known as the RHL Group. In 2009, MMRGlobal merged with Favrille, a failed biotechnology company that produced antibodies aimed at creating a treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

MMRGlobal announced on January 31 it was filing a suit against US pharmacy giant Walgreens, alleging it was infringing on MMR's personal health records patent. MMR said it was seeking monetary damages as well as a permanent injunction.

In a statement announcing the suit, MMRGlobal said it was working with an LA-based law firm to pursue “efforts to monetize its patent portfolio and other IP by investigating potential infringement of MMR's patents by entities such as retail pharmacies, EHR and PHR vendors, laboratory systems, hospitals, physicians, and other healthcare professionals”.

Last year, MMRGlobal signed a deal with VisiInc to launch a combined product offering including MMR's Australian eHealth patent portfolio with VisiInc's Vistime solution.

The product offering was described as “an immediate solution within Australia for the Personally Controlled eHealth Record (PCEHR) standard as defined by [NEHTA] " that “addresses the opportunities created from the launch of Australia's Personal Health Record on July 1 as well as interoperability of numerous eHealth and telehealth platforms being used in countries around the world”.

VisiInc's CEO and founder, Jacques Blandin, told Pulse+IT last year that MMR holds nine patents with regards to personal health records.

“As part of our association with them, they've licensed those patents to us,” Mr Blandin said. “It involves both the PHR as an item as well as the methodology of transferring information into the PHR. The patents are quite in-depth and we believe we have some rights based around those patents.

“What we have at VisiInc is a product called Vistime, which is built on a platform called the Visi platform which we developed. Part of Vistime allows the native viewing of any file type, so it allows the viewing of any sort of imagery as you would view it in the application that created it without having that application.

“You can view medical imagery natively, you can store it in a PHR and rather than store it as an image, you store the native file and then you are able to retrieve and view that native file.”

Mr Blandin said that as part of the MMR deal, VisiInc was distributing MMR's personal health record in Australia. “We can interact that with the native viewing capabilities and somebody can have all of their medical records stored on there and retrieved and viewed at any point in time, as well as being able to collaborate with a doctor or a doctor to a specialist.”

VisiInc recently issued a press release stating the first combined MMR and VisiInc systems, named VISI-MMRPro, were sold to a US network of dental practices called Burkhart Dental late last year. The product is being sold by VisiInc as part of the distribution agreement signed between the two companies.

Mr Blandin said that selling a personal health record product in Australia was difficult, and trying to market the Vistime product here had been “a hard slog”.

“We developed the Vistime product in Perth but the greatest thrust at the moment is overseas,” he said. “From an Australian perspective, we are a long way behind. It's a matter of education but if we were out there selling a personal health record on its own you'd never survive.”

Pulse+IT has approached VisiInc for comment.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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