Electronic efforts: Tofel feels FootprintID is telemedicine tool needed to fill gaps of electronic health portals
Beth Tofel knows firsthand how frazzled mothers and working women can get.
Sometimes the mere hassle of going to the doctor keeps them from seeking the care they need before taking care of others, she said.
“Women need to be both proactive and preventative,” Tofel said.
Recent studies have shown that the use of electronic health records has not only helped doctors more effectively manage women’s health, it has also encouraged women to go to the doctor.
“If their (medical) information is readily available, it gives them that push to take better care of themselves,” Tofel said. “That is really key, especially for women who are managing their own health care as well as the health of their family.”
But electronic health records alone still have their limits.
“The portals (today) are all practically silos,” Tofel said. “There is no interaction.”
Tofel, co-founder and president of FootprintID, has made it her mission to fill in the missing gaps.
FootprintID, a mobile health application that provides quick access to self-uploaded medical records, helps individuals better utilize and maintain their electronic medical histories.
“My goal in founding this business is to help people feel empowered with knowledge and information about their own health so they can self-advocate and be prepared,” she said.
Tofel left her job as an executive for a private-label shirt manufacturer to stay home with her two children in 1993. She became heavily involved in school administration and organizations to advocate for the safety and health of the children.
She could only have prepared for so much for her family.
“My brother had a massive heart attack at age 43,” Tofel said. “No one was there to provide his doctor with any information on his health history — what prescriptions he took, what our family history was.
“I realized we needed to make access to this information very easy.”
Her business partner, Jason Hubert — co-founder, CEO and chief technology officer of FootprintID — had been living in the same community as Tofel, having spent more than 25 years working in IT and corporate business.
According to the Society for Women’s Health Research, Big Data has the ability to revolutionize medical treatment for both genders.
Data patterns can help inform researchers how to specifically care for men and women moving forward, based on factors such as genetics, age, weight and lifestyle, and the development of precision medicine and genomics can help to create more individualized treatments.
Women, however, tend to need more routine medical attention than men for conditions that require ongoing care, such as reproductive planning and health, mammograms and cervical cancer screenings.
Recent studies by the Journal of the Medical Informatics Association showed that the presence of electronic health records make it more likely that doctors order essential tests to address these issues, such as Pap smears and breast exams.
“He had this massive experience in managing technology projects and automated systems,” Tofel said. “So, I decided to use my leadership skills and concerns for the population to go into business with Jason.”
Tofel and Hubert founded the company in 2012 and began marketing the Livingston-based business last year. FootprintID currently employs eight nationwide in order to handle its growing volume.
With unlimited storage and a user-friendly interface, FootprintID provides templates such as emergency contact lists, allergies and conditions, prescriptions and medications, hospitalizations and surgeries, and more for members to fill out.
Members are then encouraged to scan and upload prior test results and documents such as living wills and explanations of benefits.
“With constant changes in health insurance, testing locations and doctors, it is so important to be able to compare tests to prior results,” Tofel said.
Sometimes that is easier said than done.
“Electronic health portals have made it much easier for our members to compile their information,” Tofel said. “However, if that information is ever polluted by, for example, medical identity theft in the case of someone wanting to be insured for treatment or to get prescriptions filled, FootprintID can provide more accurate information.”
Membership for the first year is $40 for the first member and $30 for each additional member. Yearly renewals are $25 per member.
Members can only access and change their information via the use of a username and password. They can provide their doctors, family, friends and caretakers with a shareable access code.
“We do not store Social Security numbers or credit card information, which helps take us out of the target market for financial and medical identity theft,” Tofel said.
Instead, FootprintID uses both local level and secure encryption via Amazon Web Services.
“People have sensitivities regarding information about their health, so we wanted to make sure our members feel in control and comfortable that their information is safe and secure,” Tofel said.
More than 10,000 members believe that it is.
So do a rapidly growing number of employers, which account for 80 percent of FootprintID’s business.
“Employers and organizations are recognizing how important it is for an individual to have access to their medical information,” Tofel said. “They are providing FootprintID to their employees as a value-add within their health and wellness benefits. It is a very affordable tool that benefits both the employer and the user.”
Doctors have also recommended Footprint ID to their patients.
“They recommend us and stand by the same philosophy that we have,” Tofel said. “The more you can bring to the table for yourself, the better your care will be.”
Tofel hopes the state will step up, too, citing the importance of keeping businesses in New Jersey.
“Because there is so much conversation surrounding the health environment here, perhaps the state can assist us in terms of research and showing health care organizations in New Jersey how a tool like ours can benefit individuals long term,” Tofel said.
In the meantime, Tofel said the plan is to expand FootprintID membership through employers and organizations.
“Our goal is to educate people in the importance of being empowered with this information,” Tofel said.
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