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New tech firm to help teach how to reach teachers

A fledgling Baltimore-based technology company is partnering with the Education Industry Association to deliver the organization’s online professional development courses via its proprietary social media platform.

The company, An Estuary, creates a variety of technologies for clients — who work in K-12, higher education and continuing education — to use for professional development purposes.

The Education Industry Association is a networking group for companies that create products or services for public and private K-12 schools. The EIA is using An Estuary’s platform, called Sanderling, to offer a series of online courses geared toward these business owners.

The “EIA University” classes cover topics such as strategies for pricing a product, integrated marketing and business financing options. Participants can access the sessions by themselves at any time, or they can coordinate with other enrollees to log in at the same time for a more social, interactive experience.

“The Sanderling platform will bring the immediacy and networked power of social media to the professional development of industry leaders and education entrepreneurs,” said Shelly Blake-Pock, CEO of An Estuary, which was founded in April and works out of the Emerging Technology Center at the Johns Hopkins University’s Eastern campus.

Sanderling is available for the web or for Android devices, and Pock said he expects to release an Apple-compatible version early next year.

The classes were created for the EIA’s 300 members but are available to non-members on a subscription basis. Steve Pines, EIA’s executive director, said EIA University was designed because both startup founders and more established business executives indicated they were interested in learning via an interactive platform.

Inovalon Inc., a Bowie company that collects and analyzes health care data, is bringing its expertise to Ponce, Puerto Rico.

As part of a multiyear agreement with Puerto Rican technology firm NeoDeck Holdings, Inovalon will integrate its data analytics systems into NeoDeck’s two most important products: its electronic health records software, which enables health care providers to store patients’ medical records electronically, and its health information exchange platform, which is a secure way for multiple providers to access those records.

The goal is to improve the accuracy, speed and efficiency of collecting and exchanging health data there, officials for both companies said.

Inovalon’s systems will enable providers in Puerto Rico who use NeoDeck’s platforms to track improvements in the quality of care delivered and in the health outcomes of patients, as well as monitor the providers’ financial performance, company officials said.

“Access to data and the benefits of analytics are driving significant changes at the point of care,” Dr. Keith Dunleavy, president and CEO of Inovalon, said in a statement. “This partnership with NeoDeck Holdings gives health plans, hospitals and providers a significant advantage towards achieving improved quality and financial efficiency.”

University of Maryland faculty members are collaborating with health experts in Montgomery County to explore how clinicians and public health workers can use information technology to increase access to behavioral health services in the area.

They are launching a two-year study, supported by a $200,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Public Health Services and Systems Research program.

Researchers from the School of Public Health and the Robert H. Smith School of Business will look at the different kinds of IT systems being used by Montgomery County communities, including electronic health records and health information exchanges, to figure out how they could be integrated and used more effectively.

Perhaps they’ll want to consult Inovalon?

“We have the opportunity to use public health IT to connect those who have previously fallen through the cracks with the services that they need,” said Robert S. Gold, chair of the university’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and one of the study’s leaders.

“The electronic care record systems in Montgomery County are already making a difference in assisting people with complex health needs, and we are looking to expand upon this success. We can pull in data from public health surveillance systems, social service agencies and health information exchanges to optimize our ability to improve behavioral and mental health.”

The other study leader is Ritu Agarwal, the Robert H. Smith Dean’s Chair of Information Systems and founding director of the Center for Health Information and Decision Systems, which is part of the business school.