If you visit the Medical Quack you can see that MMRGlobal, aka MyMedicalRecords is a sponsor of this site so before I begin here let’s get disclaimers out of the way as I do not hold any of their,stock, nor do I own any stock and I am not an individual who is in a position to recommend any investment but I can inform by way of blogging.
Now that I have that out of the way, let’ take a look at the MMRGlobal Personal Health Record technologies with their products and services as they relate to the patent portfolio. In his last blog post Bob Lorsch, the CEO of MMRGlobal with some of the latest developments with their patents, openly invited in a statement on in his last post, the opportunity for anyone (and that’s me here) to feel free to call him or the Company’s legal council and ask any questions they desire so I did and I am sharing my take on some of the information given to me by Bob on their portfolio of patents.
We all read bits and pieces today of events and perhaps some of this will help answer some questions. I asked Bob first of all about more clarity on the patents and it’s clear that there are questions that people have as I have observed some web chatter. I didn’t understand the full focus either from what I have read. In just briefly reviewing some comments from the web I can see how it might look like the patents in question are all recent, and they are not. The process leading to the current MMR Patent Portfolio began more than 7 years ago. MMR has an estimated 360 issued and/or pending claims under their US Patents and similar patents issued and/or pending in thirteen countries pertaining to the use and deployment of online Personal Health Records and other Electronic Medical Records systems.
MMRGlobal began filing patents for their technologies that they developed relative to personal health records (PHRs) back in the year 2005, before much of the software and technologies we see out there today even existed. Since that initial time element the company has also been building and selling their own Personal Health Record, MyMedicalRecords.com which connects to any doctor or hospital with any type of messaging to with HIPAA compliance methodologies inclusive of voice messaging to and from doctors and patients.
The personal health record was designed for patients but the company also offers a document management and imaging system for health care professionals called MMRPro. The Pro version is also designed to encourage patients to crate their own personal health records with an upgrade feature that generates revenue for doctors.
A few weeks ago I paid a visit to their offices and met the staff and Bob; and this picture below shows the some of the hardware used in the Pro version of MMRPro.
We have been hearing the terminology, “patent trolling” in the news of late and when I asked Bob about “trolling” he explained that MMR efforts are not patent trolling. Apparently Bob is the inventor of the patents and they were created to protect the features and benefits of the company’s products and evolving technologies which are summarized in a hospital letter and on Bob’s blog.
Bob told me that pursuing licensing the technologies has been very expensive and anything but a short term project. He met with people at Google, Microsoft and other entities to license their patents where applicable. It’s been a slow mover but now with the Meaningful Use provisions of the stimulus incentives for doctors and hospitals moving into phase two for hospitals and doctors to attest for connectivity, it will require the ability to connect to a personal health record, a portal and so forth and the momentum has picked up.
Back while Dr. Blumenthal was still head of the ONC division of HHS, Bob spoke with him and discussed the company’s patent issues. Over the years he has also met with (former) HHS Secretary Leavitt and members of the ONC staff. However it seems that up until now the focus was not on the PHR so there has not been a lot of coverage on the topic and granted his numerous meetings didn’t make many waves in the news we all read. To keep up with the MMRGlobal press releases you can always subscribe or use an RRS Reader to see what’s happening. In reading through these I see there are regular updates that give information on the patents and licensing as well as any news announcements in their company.
So again moving forward over the past year, most of the MMR Patents have been issued in the US so the company began to pursue the licensing fees relative to the standing and currently issued patents. Through Attorney Ted Ward at the law firm of Liner, Grode and Stein they began to notify hospitals and other healthcare professionals and vendors in the industry. A copy of one of the most recent form notice letter to hospitals can be read below.
MMR Letter to Medical Entity
Apparently some of the hospitals got in touch with the California Hospital Association who called attention to the notice letters by contacting counterparts throughout the United States suggesting this was “patent trolling”. MMR and their attorneys contacted the Association explaining that who they were and why this is not trolling. The Association suggested MMR send the explanation in writing to them. The second letter clarified to the associations what the patents are as they relate to electronic medical records and personal health record technologies. The Association indicated that they would forward the letter to the other Associations who received the original letter. In our conversation Bob stated that the company had licenses with several other licensees valued in the millions of dollars, so it appears the patents and technologies with references royalties have a place in the IP world.
This is not MMR’s only investment in healthcare as they also own patents in the biotech world and as a result of their reverse merger with Favrille, Inc they have a portfolio of biotech licenses. Over $140 million was invested in FavId™ vaccine trials and the use of customized tumor cells to treat lymphoma patients and the biotech assets have already been in the subject of at least one $13 million dollar license agreement.
In addition the Michael Bass group reported on the company patent valuation this year to include only the technology items (excluding biotech) and as I read this it goes right along with other information that Bob and I discussed that their patents with intellectual property extend beyond the US borders as well. Software called the Patent Value Predictor was utilized to project and the anticipated remaining lifetime enforcement is about 14 years. Below are a few of the detail from the report at the link above.
Patent Application Number Status
PCT/US06/04867 Granted in Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand
11/225,518 Application is considered ready for issue
11/305,685 Application is considered ready for issue
12/204,465 Application is considered ready for issue
“Based on our analysis, the range of value for these patents could reach $300 to $800 million in revenue based on very conservative estimates that the market will reach the full GDP value of $19 billion . The risk factors for these patent values not realizing their predicted range of value include, adoption rate of PHR’s, the claims granted in the patent are enforceable and widely used, the market doesn’t grow as quickly as predicted, the prices for PHR’s drop substantially, and or government/regulatory forces.”
This is worth a mention in this discussion as when more patients adopt personal health records, not only do healthcare IT technologies benefit with growth, so goes the value of the patents as it appears.
In addition the report above has identified 117 PHRs (and I am in this industry and had no clue there were that many entities) and around 750 EMR/EHRs that are active and potential companies that are subject to the infringement of MMRGlobal’s patents. I am guessing that some of the PHR entities include portals and other methodologies of both “tethered” and “non-tethered” systems. Combined together, there are 867 providers total make up a pretty large group of potential licenses.
I don’t know the format to be used in the licensing, but having many years in the EMR business myself to include writing a small EMR a number of years back, I can remember the situation to where I had to entertain paying license fees to the AMA for the CPT codes, if they were rolled into a software data base for selection. This was just starting in the early EMR days with including such data. With every medical record system out there who provides the coding entities, there’s AMA license built in. In today’s world I can’t think of any EMR system that does not preload the codes so systems include an AMA license.
Stage 2 Meaningful use, which takes effect in 2014, will rely heavily on the functionality that PHRs afford providers to engage patients and their families in their healthcare and with reading the news today putting the patient forefront is a big priority as those who are educated and know more about their medical records and services they receive are most likely to take better care and thus drive down much of the expense we have today with some of the chronic care we pay for. Some conditions can be caught at an earlier state so it ends up being a win-win for both sides with a healthier, better educated patient as well as lowering costs. Education in my book is always the number one methodology to bring people into the fold.
In searching the web I just happened to find a number of articles from Modern Healthcare gives some additional background about the company. In addition you can use this link to view a rather detailed video interview with Bob at HIMSS 2009 from EHRtv. I myself have a PHR with the company as I usually have one with many vendors, so that way I when I do a software review it’s not me just repeating someone else. MyMedicalRecords does have a place for your pet’s records too and I had to admit to Bob that the records on my dog are greater in number than mine.
So in summary the message seems clear after speaking with Bob is that there are a number of potential licenses out there. After looking at the numbers, the value of the patents could grow substantially as companies license their technologies. I do have to say this is the first patent case I have read like this and I thought the same thing too when Microsoft settled with a small company with some of the XML technologies they used in a version of Word. You may or may not remember the case and the outcome but the small company did have success with proving their patent which almost nobody expected.
Bob assured me of his commitment to personal health records and how he sees this as a tool to help consumers with keeping all their records and images accessible in one place. He was inspired inspired as a Cancer survivor who dealt with the challenge of managing his own medical records and started MMR way back during the Bush administration with initiatives surrounding medical records encouraging the creation of his software.
Ultimately the licensing and patents are designed to protect the money and time he invested early in the game as back in 2005. Just from what I recall after reporting on PHRs for a number of years, I can’t think of any other PHRs that were in existence at that time. Hopefully some of the information I included here gives additional details on how the patents were filed and when and what the objective is.
I should probably give this a quick mention as you may or may not have heard about the “Hollywood” connection but in an odd way many became aware of the company due to this publicity so this gives an entire rounded story.
MMR (MyMedicalRecords) Lawsuit Looking for Shareholder Answers With Taylor and Russell Armstrong–The PHR and Hollywood Suicide Connection, Where’s the Money?
Bob has also been a 34 year Member of the Board of Trustees of the California Science Center in Los Angeles which is also the home of the Robert H. Lorsch Family Pavilion and now the Space Shuttle Endeavor where his wife Kira now serves. Bob is also a member of the Board of governors for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He’s a major supporter of the John Wayne Cancer Institute and the Thalians Mental Health Center also at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
2002, Mr. Bob was recognized by the City of Los Angeles when the Council adopted a resolution commending the entrepreneur/philanthropist for his outstanding charitable work and leadership and a “Bob Lorsch Day” was created in his honor. He has raised millions of dollars for charities such as D.A.R.E. America, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and more. In addition he has spoken at many institutions on Personal Health Records to include MIT.
He also founded Natural Products for Pets, Inc., which distributes and markets Dancing Paws nutritional products for dogs.
Below you can read the last information post he included on his personal business blog which also contains his generalized summary and a way to contact him if you would like additional information.
Some Things You May Want to Know About the MMRGlobal Patent Portfolio and Did Not Know Who to Ask
Posted by Robert Lorsch | Filed under Posts by Robert Lorsch
This Blog is intended to provide information regarding MMR’s patents and its willingness to license hospitals, healthcare providers and their vendors to facilitate the use of technology which may be necessary to satisfy the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act ("HITECH"), and to meet the meaningful use requirement.
MMR is the owner and the Company’s CEO Bob Lorsch is the inventor of five currently issued United States patents and others in at least 12 countries around the world. The patents are related, in general, to the provisioning of Personal Health Records and Electronic Health Records; U.S Patent Nos. 8,121,855, 8,117,646, 8,117,045, 8,301,466 and 8,321,240. MMR also has numerous additional patent applications pending related to patient information and Personal Health Records (collectively, “MMR’s IP”). The Company believes that HIPAA, HITECH and other laws related to the healthcare industry, make MMR’s IP relevant to many hospitals and provider plans for the future of healthcare.
The MMR IP discloses a broad range of methods to maintain, communicate, standardize, and manage patients' health information, such as through a patient portal by way of example. No different than hundreds of companies that provide other products or services in healthcare and own patents (for example patents related to imaging devices, CT scans or even medical instrument designs), MMR is not attempting to preclude healthcare providers from communicating healthcare records to patients but instead is making available its solution(s) for sale or, in the alternative, seeking a reasonable royalty from entities using another solution that infringes MMR’s IP.
While MMR does own significant patents related to Personal Health Records, it is not a patent “troll.” MMR is a practicing entity, a company that has itself developed and sells products and services using the MMR patented technology. For example, MMR’s consumer products include the MyMedicalRecords Personal Health Record. These products allow documents, images and voicemail messages to be transmitted in and out of the system using a variety of methods, including fax, voice, file upload, email and other forms of messaging and do not rely on any specific Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system to populate an account. MMR’s professional offerings, MMRPro, provide physician practices and hospitals a cost-effective end-to-end solution to the expensive and time-consuming process of digitizing paper-based medical records. Incorporated into the MMRPro system is an integrated patient portal to provide patients with timely online access to their personal health information. MMR created the tools to connect any patient with any physician or hospital or other healthcare professional anywhere in the world and patented its technology.
MMR understands that there are questions regarding MMR’s IP. To that extent the Company encourages contacting Mr. Ted Ward at Liner Grode Stein Yankelevitz Sunshine Regenstreif & Taylor LLP, 310-500-3384, TWard@LinerLaw.com or me at the contact information that appears below.
Robert H. "Bob" Lorsch, CEO, MMRGlobal
4401 Wilshire Blvd., 2nd Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90010, Tel. 310-476-7002