Matthew Hawkins is CEO of Vitera Healthcare Solutions of Tampa, FL.
Give me some background about yourself and about Vitera Healthcare Solutions.
I’m a technology enthusiast and a big believer that technology can and should enable better practice, both from a business perspective and a clinical perspective. I think that’s one of the reasons I’m very excited to be at Vitera Healthcare Solutions.
As you know, Vitera’s roots are in practice management, with the Medical Manager business and some other practice management solutions. That’s a part of our DNA. Being good at practice management and helping doctors get reimbursed for the services that they’re performing and helping them manage effective practices is part of our DNA. That’s something I’m a big believer in.
One of the reasons I’m also excited about being in Vitera is I believe that software companies are really people-oriented businesses. That’s definitely true here. That’s one of the things that made me gravitate toward working within a software type organization. They’re people businesses. The soul of the business is in helping inspire people to develop and deliver great technology and provide excellent service. I think ultimately the products and services that we offer become an extension of who we are.
I’m excited about being here and excited about what we’re going to be able to accomplish as an organization with the good people that we have at Vitera.
What was the interest by Vista Equity Partners when they acquired the company in this past fall?
Vista Equity Partners acquired the business in November 2011. They’re very excited to be the owners of this business. They were thrilled to win the bid.
They see this as a long-term opportunity to create value for our clients by helping employ best practices that Vista Equity Partners has tested and had proven in a number of different businesses that they owned. They’re very familiar with healthcare, but also more broadly across other enterprise software businesses in other industries. I’ve worked with Vista for nearly five years. I know them to be very good investment partners, willing to make investments in the business and willing to do what it takes to help create value. I look forward to working with them here in this business.
People are always suspicious when private equity firms buy companies that they’re just going to slash and burn their way to flipping the company at the first chance. Have there been any headcount reductions or any other cost-cutting measures, and what’s the long-term strategy of where the company needs to go?
We’re very focused on building a great business, insofar as changing the profile of our company, and we are making investments. Vista Equity Partners isn’t a traditional private equity firm from a cost-cutting perspective. For example, this year we will invest more than $25 million to accelerate our innovation efforts in R&D. We’re investing in new systems, a CRM system so that we have a lot better capabilities and to give that to our staff to improve our customer service and support, and then we’re also investing in skill training for our staff.
All of these are really with one goal in mind — to improve the client experience that people have with Vitera Healthcare Solutions and just to improve every aspect of our service, whether it’s training and delivery or the way we support service requests. It’s definitely investing in the products and extending those to several exciting new areas.
It’s important that we let people know that I’m very focused with our team, and we’re building a fine team. We’ve brought in several people that have healthcare industry experience to help us lead our teams. We also have a good core group of employees here. We are working to change the profile of the company. As I mentioned, we’re making investments. We’ll invest more than $25 million this year while continuing to invest in several products, including the Intergy product suite — practice management and EHR –Medical Manager, and Medware.
We’ll soon launch a full, multi-tenant based cloud solution for practice management and EHR, which we’re thrilled about. We’re investing in a mobile solution that will enable doctors and practitioners to practice healthcare any time, anywhere, and we’re thrilled about that. We’re investing in better analytical solutions so that practices can have insight into how they’re practicing, both from a business perspective as well as in an increasingly important category of clinical perspective.
While we do those things, we are positioning our resources. We’re looking to concentrate some of our resources in Tampa, Florida. We’ll be hiring several people here, upwards of 100 to 200 people here centrally in Tampa, Florida in client service, in training, in development, and in product management, among other areas. We’re also looking to enhance and grow our account coverage model in the field, so throughout the United States, we anticipate growing our sales force by upwards of 40 to 50% so that we can meet the needs of the clients that we serve locally.
It’s a balance of positioning the company, changing the profile of the company, and seeking to optimize the way that we utilize our resources, all focused on helping us deliver great technology and great service to the client practices that we serve.
You mentioned the cloud-based solution, of which I’d heard rumors. Supposedly it came from an acquisition. Can you elaborate on where that product came from and how it will be rolled out?
This occurred before I came to the business and before Vista Equity Partners acquired the business, but there was an acquisition of some cloud technology, I think a year and a half ago or two years ago. We have, since the acquisition in November, worked aggressively to take that product from where it was and enhance it and improve it dramatically.
We are in the process achieving Meaningful Use Certification as well Surescripts certification for the product. We will begin a pilot test among several client practices that are interested in the product, having seen it briefly. We anticipate being able to bring that product to market later this spring.
We’re thrilled about the early feedback that we’ve received on it. We definitely want to deliver a high quality, cloud-based solution for practice management and electronic health records that is interoperable and works very effectively with other products on the market as well.
It seems like with the changing demographics of position practices, where a lot of them are being acquired by hospital or managed by hospitals, that everybody wants either a cheap, good-looking system that’s easy to use in a small practice so they want some giant enterprise system that hospitals like that can tie in to the hospital systems. Where do your systems fit in with what customers are looking for?
I think it’s important to think about our system as being true to the ambulatory market and the office-based practitioners across several specialties. We feel like we have a very full suite, the Intergy product in particular, with practice management and EHR. Several client practices that are large — some hospital systems, multi-doctor multi-specialty systems as well — use the Intergy Suite as well as our Medical Manager products.
We are also working to optimize our products to work with the smaller practice sizes, the one- to two-doc practices. We’ll do that both with an Intergy On-Demand, a hosted solution, and soon we’ll do that with a pure cloud-based solution. We feel like our products can address both ends of the market effectively. We’ll continue to invest to ensure that our products are able to offer great coverage to the larger practice sizes — the multi-specialty, multi-doc practice sizes — as well as the smaller one- to two-doc practices.
But I think the important thing to underscore is we never want to lose our core focus, and that is on creating a great experience for the office-based practitioner and the ambulatory market. Really understanding the workflows, the way that practices operate in that smaller practice or mid-sized practice level, and addressing their needs effectively.
When you took over what was Sage Healthcare, what did you see as the strengths and the weaknesses of the company’s offerings or the company in general?
A real strength of Vitera Healthcare, which was formally named Sage, is the large group of loyal client practices that use the technology, more than 80,000 physicians and 11,000 practices. That’s a strength that we absolutely are focused on. We’ll continue to be focused on earning their loyalty.
I think we have a great competitive set of products. The latest version of Medical Manager is 5010-compliant and ICD-10 ready, and we’re thrilled about that. We’ve got a great pathway forward with Medical Manager. Other great competitive products that are part of this business — the Intergy Suite product, Meaningful Use certified, 5010 compliant. We have some other products that every practice should have in our practice analytics product and a practice portal solution that we offer.
I think the third area that is a strength to our business is knowledgeable, very dedicated, good employees, many of whom have years of valuable experience in healthcare technology.
Those are many of the strengths of the business. Areas where I think we can improve are getting back out in front of our client base and talking about our product vision and sharing with clients who are about to make a technology purchase decision the fact that we are investing aggressively in innovation and in R&D and that we have a clear product message and clear product vision.
I think another area to focus on for us is improving the way we serve the practices that we work with. Coming into the business, I saw service improvement as a real opportunity for us. We have great people. We can do a great job taking care of the practices that we work with, and we are committed to doing that.
When the sale was announced in September, Sage’s CEO implied that the policies of the Obama administration had reduced the attractiveness of the EMR market. I think he said something about Sage Healthcare’s US business was contracting, which seems like a bizarre statement to make. What was he talking about?
I must say I disagree with that perspective. I think this is a very attractive market base. I think the market validates that with the number of vendors focused on this market or the number of stock market type transactions that we’re seeing that are focused on healthcare technology in general. Certainly just with the amount of dollars that are being invested, either by government entities or by private practices themselves, to get themselves to be able to use state-of-the-art technology.
I feel like that it’s just a tremendous market for us to be in right now. We are positioning Vitera Healthcare Solutions to take full advantage of that by getting our clients great products that enable them to take advantage of all the government incentives. We had nearly 900 clients already that have taken advantage of some Meaningful Use incentives, which at $18,000 average incentive, is $15-$16 million in reimbursement that our clients have already procured. We’re thrilled about that. I think that speaks to the attractiveness of this market from a vendor perspective like ours.
I feel like there is tremendous opportunity for continued efficiency gain to be had in healthcare, and in the way healthcare is practiced, and in the way that it’s becoming increasingly patient centric and what patients are expecting from a healthcare experience, what providers are expecting from a technology experience. I think being a vendor in this space, it’s just a phenomenal time to be here, because we can bring all those technology best practices to bear for both providers and patients alike.
As a vendor, do you see Meaningful Use as a long-term strategy or a short-term distraction?
I think Meaningful Use is good for the industry because it’s helping all us be aware that there’s an effective way to use technology to practice medicine. With that being said, obviously there’s an investment focus or a reimbursement focus over the next couple of years. The government is rewarding practices that are investing in Meaningful Use-enabled technology. Our technology is certainly Meaningful Use enabled, so it’s not a distraction at all to us. We like that.
I think longer term, the focus on being Meaningful Use-enabled and certified is just going to lead to better healthcare, from a business perspective as well as from a clinical perspective. It’s going to position practices and practitioners, and ultimately patients, to benefit from the efficiency gains that are able to be had, from affordable care even along to accountable, proactive care to patients. I see it as a good thing.
If you look at the current ambulatory EMR market and where Vitera plays in it, what do you see is important and what do you as happening in the next several years?
I think that speaks very well to our product vision. I’ll talk about some things that I see as just being tremendously important to us.
I think the technology themes that we’re incorporating into this product vision speak to the trends that will be in effect the next several years, including helping practices profitably practice healthcare. Included in that would be our theme around practice profitability, revenue cycle optimization, and being true to the office-based practitioner core, enabling them to practice effective and profitable healthcare.
Next, I think a big trend is in patient engagement. We see the word patient-centric referred to quite a bit. I think maybe that’s speaking to the consumer as in driven by patients and the expectations that all of us have as consumers of information included in our healthcare experience and wanting to know and to be aware of and be included in the decisions being made for opportunities to learn more about the healthcare that we’re receiving. Patient engagement, I think, is a very important trend that we’re focused on and that we’ll continue to focus on.
I think the use of data as a trend .. we would call that as practice insight … and really using analytical information to help improve the clinical care of patients and to help drive to better outcomes for patients. I think that positions both providers and patients to benefit strongly from that. Not just clinical care, but having dashboards and good reporting tools from a practice perspective give practices insight into how better business productivity as well.
Just the last couple of thoughts on trends and themes and why and where I think we’re positioning Vitera Healthcare in this very dynamic market. Connectivity. I think there’s a real important trend toward the need to be interoperable and flexible between our systems and others and making sure that we support IHE and that we are able to enable practices to select our technology, but then position them to know that our technology can be connected to others and integrated and interoperable in a way that makes sense for practitioners. I think that’s an important trend that we’ll be focused on.
I mentioned any time, anywhere access mobile solutions. We’ll launch a true native Intergy iPad solution later this summer, and we’re thrilled about that. That trend is going do nothing but continue, and we’ll be focused as a business on future iPhone and Android access solutions, just mobile solutions in general.
Then I think the foundational element of just being a good software company will continue as trends. Things like having software that is easy to use, having technology solutions that are easy to understand, easy to use, easy to be trained on. I think that will differentiate us as we go forward.
Cloud computing. I mentioned our cloud computing offering as a trend and a way to position us within this space. Having a trusted partner that is there focused on regulatory compliance and security and stability, so that when practices select one of our products, they know that we’re thinking and anticipating regulatory compliance items and being very mindful of stability and security and performance along the way.
I see that as how we position ourselves as we go forward as a company in the future. I’m very excited to be a part of that.
Any final thoughts?
I’m thrilled to be here at Vitera Healthcare Solutions. I look forward to working with you and others in the industry to advance the cause of healthcare technology. I feel like we can play a really important role in making good things happen for practices and patients and the entire community.