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In re Salwan

Representative Claim

  1. A method for transferring patient health information among healthcare user groups or patients via a network, the method comprising:

providing at least one central data storage configured to receive and store patient health data from one or more private data storages of healthcare user groups, at least one central computer program embodied in at least one computer readable medium or embodied in at least one central server for processing and transferring patient health information stored in the one or more central data storages, and at least one device for providing user authorization to access patient data stored in the one or more central data storages, and configuring the central computer program or the central server for:

communicating through at least one computer program, which includes EMR and billing software, embodied in a computer readable medium with at least one private data storage storing electronic medical record (EMR) information originated, entered and controlled by at least one or more first healthcare service providers affiliated with the one or more healthcare user groups, including at least accounts information confidential for the first healthcare user groups, the confidential information includes at least accounts information of one or more insurance companies, which is at least used by the billing software to calculate patient portion of the bill, and clinical data generated by one or more service providers;

receiving from the at least one private data storage the EMR information for storing, processing and transmission to at least one of the patients, or one or more second healthcare user groups, wherein the information confidential for the first healthcare user groups including at least the accounts information of one or more insurance companies is not received and stored at the central data storage;

storing the received EMR information generated by the one or more service providers including at least one of health problems, medications, diagnosis, prescriptions, notes written by the service Providers, diagnostic test results or patient accounts data in the at least one central data storage;

selectively retrieving the stored EMR information, generating one or more healthcare reports including one or more of health problem list, medication list, diagnoses report, prescription, diagnostic test result report, patient billing report; and

transmitting one or more healthcare reports to at least the second authorized healthcare user groups or the patient for reviewing.

Posture:

Appeal from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Trial and Appeal Board in No. 12/587,101.

Abstract Idea: Yes

The Federal Circuit upheld the Board’s Step One determination that the pending claims were “directed to the abstract idea of billing insurance companies and organizing patient health information,” where the representative claim recited “storing, communicating, transferring, and reporting patient health information in a network.”  The representative claim also recited using “billing software to calculate a patient’s bill based on EMR and insurance information,” which the Federal Circuit noted was “little more than the automation of a ‘method of organizing human activity’ with respect to medical information.”

The patent applicant argued that the pending claims were “not directed to an abstract idea because the calculation of a patient’s bill and the transfer of patient EMR are not theoretical concepts.”  The applicant specifically noted practical applications based on the recited claims that were “employed in a multi-billion dollar medical billing industry.”  The Federal Circuit held that even if the recited claims were “directed to practical concepts,” they were “fundamental economic and conventional business practices.”

Something More: No

The Federal Circuit upheld the Board’s Step Two finding that the recited method steps failed to transform the nature of the claims.  In the court’s view, the claims on appeal were “directed to generic computer structures for storing and transferring information.”  The court went on to characterize the claims as merely implementing “long-known practices related to insurance billing and organizing patient health information on a generic computer.”  The patent applicant argued “that the inventive aspect of the claims overcomes the exchange of patient health information ‘using fax machines, or sending paper documents by postal mail, which was inefficient, costly and time consuming.’”  The Federal Circuit disagreed, finding that “the claimed elements of a generic ‘network,’ ‘computer program,’ ‘central server,’ ‘device,’ and ‘server for processing and transferring’ are simply not enough to transform the abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention.”  The court further noted that “reference to features recited by the dependent claims—such as video conferencing, patient appointment scheduling, patient registration forms, health-related advertisements, and allowing physicians to create handwritten EMR,” were not enough to overcome the fact that the claims were directed to well-known business practices.