By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates. P.C.
Two family friends who came together in 2007 to found a Johnson City-based start-up are about to take their efforts to a new level.
The company is WebChartMD, and the team is Mark Christensen, who serves as Chief Operations Officer, and Andrew Jebasingh, Chief Technology Officer. We talked to the duo recently about the impetus for founding the company, their very impressive growth, and their plans to launch a new “Big Data” application.
“Andrew and I have known each other for 20 years,” Christensen said, noting that he was a friend and colleague of Jebasingh’s father. Their collaboration began in 2005, two years before the start-up launched its first product.
As Christensen tells the story, they saw a need for a technology platform that medical transcription companies could use to more efficiently manage their workflow. Medical transcription, an $8 billion dollar a year industry, is used by physicians to document patient encounters for the purposes of continuity of care, insurance reimbursement, and litigation protection.
The emergence of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) has given physicians other documentation options, like on-screen templates and voice recognition. Despite that, Christensen says many physicians continue to prefer dictation and transcription.
“Many high volume, highly paid specialists can’t afford the extra time for point and clicking on the new EHR systems,” he said. Their belief that many doctors needed an alternative led them to found WebChartMD and launch their “software as a service” solution in the first quarter of CY 2007.
“We muscled our way into a mature market,” Christensen said. WebChartMD’s singular focus has been on clinical documentation workflow technology, starting with voice capture (dictation and telephony software and technology) and extending through all aspects of document production, review, e-signing and EHR interfacing.
Today, WebChartMD is an industry leader, counting more than 100 medical transcription companies across the country as its clients. Those companies, in turn, manage the dictation and transcription workflow for more than 8,000 physicians and 1,200 healthcare facilities.
As far as revenue growth, WebChartMD has grown the “back of a napkin” plan put together in 2005 to a run-rate of close to $2 million today.
Christensen said that maintaining that growth in a mature market requires constant innovation or, in the case of WebChartMD, new applications. The company averages three to four minor new product enhancements per month in response to client requests.
The company is announcing a major new product ahead of the start of the American Health Information Management Association’s trade show that starts Saturday. It is a software solution that enables keyword searches on millions of text documents in milliseconds.
Christensen says the “Big Data” solution is intended to help hospitals break down existing silos of data.
“Every time a hospital corporation makes a change (in transcription vendors), the documents transcribed by the previous vendor get siloed,” he notes. “Our app unified all of the data into one data set.”
Jebasingh designed the new app that he says can be used by non-technical staff.
“We index all of the text,” he explains. “Then, any average user can go in and do searches just like Google. They can save their searches and do their analytics.”
Christensen cites a number of importance uses for the new “Big data” tool. They include:
- Diagnostic assistance by allowing doctors to access records previously siloed in legacy systems;
- Identification of patients using dangerous combinations of drugs; and
- Identification of recalled drugs and medical devices.
To read WebChartMD’s official news release, click here (FINAL – Press Release – WebChartMD Enters Big Data Arena).