November 26, 2012 Issue
The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information
iPractice Group is bringing, to this Growing Healthcare I.T. Market, something Creative and Innovative and more Focused Towards Consumers, and helping both Physicians and Patients Succeed
About iPractice Group:
Practice Management Solutions
Nashville TN, 37214
Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – November 26, 2012
Mr. Chang: The original vision was to provide small independent medical practices with all the tools they need from a single source provider and to be an industry leader in the healthcare I.T. space. We are currently servicing over 1000 users across 22 states. While that’s just a small step toward our ultimate goal, I feel like it’s a pretty good achievement in just two years.
CEOCFO: What is the competitive landscape for you?
Mr. Chang: There are many electronic health record companies out there. Most of them are software vendors. With meaningful use stage 2 and ICD-10 being the next hurdle, a lot of the smaller EHR companies, based on older technology, will start to sunset. This will open up a replacement market for companies like us. I also feel that iPractice Group is unique in that we are not a software company. We don’t have tens of millions vested into a particular technology. This makes us more agile and better positioned to react with the changing market conditions. With the federal deadline for Meaningful Use stage 2 and ICD-10 extended, a lot of software companies are reducing their sales force due to the slowdown in sales. However, we are actually still expanding our sales teams because we have a much more diversified product line. So when one segment of the market slows, we simply divert resources to move another product that is in higher demand.
CEOCFO: How do you reach potential customers and how do you get them to understand the difference of what you provide?
Mr. Chang: We have a unique marketing message and approach. We reach our customers thru direct contact, email and web campaigns, word of mouth and professional conferences to name a few. We also recently expanded our direct sales team across 25 states with our reps generating over 1,000 activities per week. As to how we get our physician customers to understand our products and services and how we differ from the competition, it’s actually a very simple concept: we offer all the services our customers need from a single source. We become their partner and help them navigate the complex ever-changing healthcare landscape and guide them to success. We are not a software company like most of our competition. We are not here to just sell a product and move on to the next customer. The value of the business is based on our relationships with our customers. I believe by understanding our customers and their pain points, we will be able to provide solutions that work and build partnerships that last.
CEOCFO: Are most practices taking advantage of the full-range of services you offer?
Mr. Chang: Yes, they are. Typically a practice will start their relationship with us through the purchase of our EHR product. During the implementation of the EHR, the practice usually adds various other services we offer, such as consulting, I.T. services, and quite often revenue cycle management.
CEOCFO: How do you ensure your systems are user-friendly?
Mr. Chang: We started by choosing the best available software out there. We looked at almost every EHR system available before finally deciding on the Greenway PrimeSUITE product. PrimeSUITE has over 3,000 specialty templates already built. Our physicians can search the catalog and find templates that work best for them. That said, just having the best software doesn’t mean it will be successfully adopted into a medical practice. Even a basic software product like Microsoft Word would be difficult to use if the user is not trained properly. So, we make sure we include plenty of training hours when we sell our systems.
CEOCFO: Would you tell us about the recent move to a new facility?
Mr. Chang: The new facility is three times larger than our previous facility. It has a long history in healthcare and was fromerly the corporate offices for Emdeon, and later Perot Systems. The space was designed to be very employee centric. We have a ton of open space and people work in a group environment. We have a lot of open common space where we gather to share ideas and have quick meetings. We have a lounge with overstuffed couches and a cotton candy machine. The entire space is designed for collaborative working and thinking. There are 800,000 doctors adopting I.T. within a 5 year window, so there is a great deal of competition for talent. In order to attract the right people, you have to have the right environment and culture.
CEOCFO: Are most practices coming to you for their first electronic system or are they migrating from something that has not worked in the past?
Mr. Chang: We are mostly installing first-time buyers right now. I do not see the replacement market hitting heavy until middle to late 2013. With ICD-10 and Meaningful Use Stage II pushed back to 2014, there definitely has been a delay.
CEOCFO: Would you tell you about your new marketing strategy?
Mr. Chang: We expanded our sales team to 15 direct sales people. We are looking at on-boarding another 10 over the next few months. The plan is to have a much stronger web presence and a much bigger push on our value proposition which is that we help the independent doctors stay independent. That hits home with many doctors because typically they do not want to join a hospital, but feel like they have no other options.
We are also rolling out a new marketing campaign for 2013 that revolves around the demand for Meaningful Use.
CEOCFO: What is the key to working with doctors?
Mr. Chang: I believe it is to identify their pain points and addressing these needs, not necessarily with new products but working with them to figure out what it is that will help improve their patients’ quality of care and also to help them offset decreased revenues due to shrinking reimbursements and increasing administrative requirements. When we work with doctors from a consultative standpoint and provide them with solutions that will actually help their practice is when we create a long-term, partner-client relationship.
CEOCFO: What are you finding as far as concerns about the upcoming potential healthcare changes?
Mr. Chang: All of these are short-term roadblocks. On the long-term, I do not really see any of this affecting the necessity for healthcare I.T. solutions. I see healthcare I.T. as infrastructure that needs building. We are over a decade behind other industries. It does not make sense with sixty million baby boomers reaching retirement age and demanding so much healthcare, relying on an infrastructure that is outdated and inefficient. Politics definitely affects things. It causes instability in the mood and the market but healthcare I.T. adoption is neither a luxury nor political, but a necessity. We will have to increase efficiency if we are to keep up with the increase in demand for healthcare over the next twenty years. Of course, we have to consider what the consumer wants as well. As more of the healthcare costs shift toward the patient with high deductible plans, patients are going to start thinking more like consumers, which means they will have higher expectations of care and convenience. How silly is it that we can log into Internet banking and get our account balance but have no access to any of our health records?
CEOCFO: You have considerable entrepreneurial background, what have you learned in your previous ventures which is valuable in iPractice Group?
Mr. Chang: Personally, I think the key to success is to recognize an opportunity. In this case, opportunity is healthcare technology and trying to do twenty years of catch-up in five years which opens up a great deal of opportunity. In my opinion, the key to being successful is to be at the right place at the right time, being able to realize you are at the right place at the right time and taking advantage of the opportunity before you. My previous background is very heavy in marketing, advertising and sales. By design our executive team here is not of a traditional healthcare company. Sure, we have people here that have extensive knowledge and expertise in healthcare like my business partner who has implemented hospital systems for his entire career and our sales leader who has 22 years of experience selling software systems to practices. But, the rest of our senior management is from various other consumer-oriented industries. We are able to see more opportunities than someone who has always been in healthcare doing the same types of things. iPractice Group is bringing, to this growing healthcare I.T. market, something creative and innovative and more focused towards consumers, and helping both physicians and patients succeed.
CEOCFO: Why should the business and investment community pay attention to iPractice Group?
Well, like I said earlier, the key to success is to be able to recognize an
opportunity. We are at the right place at the right time with the right
group of people to take full advantage of it. We are well established and
positioned to be a major player in this niche. Also, in today’s unstable
economy, healthcare infrastructure is one of the safer places in which to
“iPractice Group is bringing, to this growing healthcare I.T. market, something creative and innovative and more focused towards consumers, and helping both physicians and patients succeed.” - Ting Chang, CEO and Co-Founder
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