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Health data startup gets unusual attention

It seems like health IT is in a perpetual, super-charged cycle of announcements, unveilings and acquisitions ranging from the recent Salesforce foray into healthcare, for example, to IBM Watson Health’s plan to buy VNA vendor Merge Healthcare Incorporated.

Now comes what one media wag called “stealthy San Francisco-based digital healthcare startup” Amino Inc., with an innovative, consumer-oriented system for shopping for the best doctors with the best skills and covered by your insurance, using health data — including from insurers — that Amino has quietly collected for two years.

Clearly, co-founder and CEO David Vivero knows how to amass, manipulate and monetize data given his background as a former Zillow vice president and founder of another real estate site, Rentjuice, which was acquired by Zillow for $40 million in 2012. Vivero’s experience searching for doctors and insurance to treat his rare health condition inspired him to start the new company.

In addition to breathless coverage of its Oct. 10 announcement in the tech media, Amino’s Web-based system garnered attention from mainstream outlets such as the New York Times and Time.com.

But what has caught the eye of many observers (including mine) is the quality of this seemingly out-of-nowhere venture’s executives, advisers and board of directors, which includes former ONC Chief Privacy Officer Joy Pritts.

Pritts’ participation is intended to help answer questions that will inevitably crop up about privacy of the health data that Amino plans to handle. (The company says all protected health information remains anonymous to ensure privacy.)

Amino claims it has already gathered big data for about 893,000 physicians, 3.9 billion healthcare interactions, more than 800 conditions, procedures and specialties patients can search, and the medical experiences of 188 million American people.

When I tried a free search for orthopedic surgeons to do ACL replacement surgery (which I had done seven years ago after a skiing accident), Amino searched its database of nearly a million docs and came up with my actual surgeon, the estimable Michael Brown, M.D., of UMass-Memorial Medical Center’s sports medicine clinic, in Worcester, Mass., as the second choice.

The first choice was Brown’s gifted colleague in the same clinic, Nicola DeAngelis, M.D.

Amazing.

Try it by plugging in a few details about yourself, your condition and what kind of doc you’re looking for here.

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