Joe Torti is founder and CEO of ESD of Toledo, OH.
Tell me about yourself and the company.
I started in healthcare IT in 1983 when I got out of graduate school. I worked in healthcare IT for a few years and left the industry. In 1990, I was talking to some people that I worked with for a couple of years and they said, "There’s a need for this."
I felt entrepreneurial at that time and I went for it. I was an HBOC project manager on a few jobs working for myself. Then I slowly started hiring people as I talked to people I knew or met more people in the industry. I started building up the practice one consultant at a time.
The company just announced some layoffs and a restructuring, which is something most companies aren’t as forthright about. What challenges led to that decision and what have you learned from it?
We had increased our sales force to get more exposure to the market. As the forecast got closer and closer, we realized that the market for our products and the consulting industry in general was down. A good majority of the clients that we dealt with that were ripping and replacing systems had already done it.
A major portion of our business is still go-live and staff augmentation, which have slowed down significantly throughout the industry. One of our contracts, a very large one, just moved from April to the end of the year. We did not see that in our sales forecast and our salespeople were not seeing a lot of traction in the market for the next three to six months. That’s what drove our right-sizing, if you want to use an industry phrase.
We have not closed. We’ve sized for the market we see over the next three to six months. We have kept key people in key positions to move forward in the market that we see.
How has the business changed in the past two years?
Two years ago, everybody was trying to get Meaningful Use dollars. They were putting in systems. The staff augmentation on these projects was huge. The activation part of the business was huge.
Since a lot of the organizations have made the decision, they’ve moved ahead a lot of what we thought was going to be first half 2015 work. They dropped ICD-10 work, spent the money on other projects, and now they’re back to spending it on ICD-10 because they’re trying to get that done.
The market will be very strong again over the next two to three years. Even though a lot of hospitals have made the call on switching or upgrading, a lot of them are still making that decision.
Where do you see the opportunities going forward?
There will be activation work in the next 18 months, but optimization is the opportunity. Clients have said, “We put in a model system or a vanilla system and now we need to make it work for us better.”
We are uniquely qualified in that area because of our clinical focus. Many of our consultants are clinical, with very good knowledge of multiple installations of certain software . They can come back to a client and help them optimize it based on best practices from around the country.
How will you take the company forward?
Our COO, Kelly Myles, is an RN. We’ve always marched to her saying, "Whatever we do affects the patient eventually." That’s been our guiding force.
We provide good consultants who are focused on doing the best job so that the patients have the best experience with whatever organization they’re in.
Do you have any final thoughts?
Our business has been successful because of the value of the consultants that we have built relationships with. That part of our business remains unchanged. We’ve spent many years developing those relationships and working with the same consultants over the years. We know their expertise very well. They’ve worked for ESD on many projects.
We have multiple clients that we’ve been working with since 2005 or even 2003. They still have confidence in us, every one of them.
Moving forward, we will provide the same level of quality to our clients. We will keep those relationships intact. Our changes will allow us to be there for the consultants and for our clients.