Orion sees 'healthcare Facebook'

16:00, Jan 23 2013
TREND TOWARDS ELECTRONIC RECORD: Orion health chief executive Ian McCrae.
TREND TOWARDS ELECTRONIC RECORD: Orion health chief executive Ian McCrae.

New Zealand's largest private IT company, Orion Health, could be at the leading edge of creating "the Facebook of healthcare" as medical records are increasingly digitised.

Orion's founding majority owner and chief executive, Ian McCrae, said trends towards creating electronic medical records and storing them on cloud servers meant patients and their doctors could build a much more interactive relationship over the internet.

Though it was not likely to be a social network where people shared their medical records, McCrae believed the potential for self-reporting of health indicators and real-time conversations between doctors and patients would lead to a more interactive approach to health.

"Society is now so used to Facebook, accessing bank accounts online, emailing, using Skype and all these technologies, it seems only logical that people should also have similar access to their medical records," said McCrae, who started Orion in Auckland in 1993 with a view to the global future of digitised healthcare.

"That's not just viewing your last lab results, but also full participation, having targets and goals perhaps, being able to talk to your clinician, or talking to others with similiar conditions and complaints."

The prospect of adding a person's genome to their medical profile was also becoming morelikely with the cost of a genetic map sneaking below US$1000 (NZ$1190) for the first time, McCrae said.

Knowing your genome would influence medical and lifestyle decisions daily, he said.

"Once you get involved in your own medical records and your own healthcare you find that people take a greater interest and suddenly they get healthier."

Orion Health has 720 staff, offices in 11 countries, customers in 30 countries and will achieve a turnover of more than $100 million in the current financial year, and may list on the New Zealand stock exchange.