McFarlane’s life as an entrepreneur started at an early age: As a teenager, she helped build and run a family restaurant in New York. But it was only after completing her education (an undergrad degree from Cornell and a graduate degree from the Wake Forest University School of Business) and working as both an educator and a health insurance manager that she came up with the idea for Patientory.
The idea for the company – which uses blockchain tech to connect otherwise siloed EMR systems, including those operated by Epic, Allscripts, Cerner, and Meditech – sprang from a frustration McFarlane experienced earlier in her career. “When I was doing health consulting and, a little later, when I was poached by a health startup, it really bothered me that patients couldn’t access all their health data,” she recalls. “So that’s what inspired me to start Patientory. The general idea was to have a holistic solution that helped patients collect every piece of data about them in a single place.”
Of course, McFarlane wasn’t the only one who had this idea. Earlier this decade, both Microsoft and Google attempted to create something similar, but neither succeeded. As it turns out, de-siloing data in a manner secure enough to appease all interested parties was an almost impossible task.
But when McFarlane and her Patientory teammates devised a solution that utilizes blockchain to create an open network, the industry took notice. “It’s safe and decentralized, and so different from our current model,” McFarlane says. Patientory spelled it all out in a white paper a few years ago and, before long, it had considerable VC backing.
“What we heard was, ‘This is what’s missing in healthcare.’ That was really validating,” McFarlane adds.
The reason you might not have heard about Patientory yet is that healthcare has never been the fastest of industries to embrace new solutions. One senses a great majority of people in and around the business don’t have the slightest idea what blockchain is all about. McFarlane agrees, pointing to Patientory’s early arrival to the space as one of the major challenges the company is confronting. “Nobody wants to be that first guinea pig,” she notes.
That said, McFarlane reports that interest has intensified in the past eight months, fueled in no small part by the increasing – and alarming – number of data security breaches. She also believes technologies such as blockchain will fuel growth within the space.
“Healthcare has a long way to go in terms of catching up with other industries that have been innovating with tech for 15 or 20 years,” she explains. “We need to get key stakeholders to work together. I see so much potential for collaboration, which is what it’s going to take to tackle some of these problems.”