John Bardis is the chairman, president and CEO of MedAssets. He has over 23 years’ experience in the healthcare industry and has held various senior management positions with companies such as Baxter, Kinetic Concepts, and Theratx. He has also served as a member of the Advisory Board for High Bar Capital.
SM: Let’s start with your background. Where do you come from?
JB: I am originally from the Chicago area. I went to the University of Wisconsin on a wrestling scholarship. I ended up transferring and finished my education on a wrestling scholarship at the University of Arizona in Tucson. I started in healthcare, working for the American Hospital Supply Corporation as a field sales representative right out of college. I worked for them for nine years and was then recruited to be the president of Kinetic Concepts, which was a startup out of San Antonio, Texas.
SM: What did Kinetic Concepts do?
JB: They were a specialty bed and wound management company. They largely remain so today. We took that company public in 1988 and I stayed on as president until 1992. In 1992 I was recruited to be the CEO of a startup called Theratx which was headquartered in San Diego, California. It was about a $10 million-a-year company and we took it public in July of 1994.
SM: What was their business?
JB: Sub-acutic rehabilitation. It enabled patients to move out of hospitals quicker yet still receive the rehabilitation necessary to become functional in their home setting.
SM: Was it a service company? How was that value proposition delivered?
JB: They did process-based rehabilitation services including speech, occupational, and physical therapy for patients post-hospitalization. Many of those therapy centers were inside US nursing homes. We were able to get patients home quicker with a real, cure-defined delivery process. We grew the company to $500 million in revenue and in 1997 received a bid to be purchased by Vencor for over $500 million. We sold Theratx in May of 1997.
SM: What specific medical industries would you say your career grew up in?
JB: Medical technology, medical supplies, and healthcare services. Those have been where most of my work has gone over a 30-year career.
SM: What was your next step after selling Theratx?
JB: In 1997 I had built a private family business called “The Cooler” in Alpharetta, Georgia. It is a youth and family recreation center that has two ice arenas, volleyball, soccer, lacrosse, wrestling and weight training. Immediately after Theratx, I went there and stayed until June of 1999, which is when I started MedAssets.
SM: What was going on in the industry at the time? What was going on in your head when you decided to start MedAssets?
JB: At the time, the overall promise of the Internet was getting a tremendous amount of traction. We were really in the middle of the dot-com era. I thought we could use the Internet to rationalize the procurement of medical supplies, starting with the redeployment of capital equipment within the US marketplace. Major imaging equipment is a good example.
In starting the company, our first acquisition was a division of Comdisco, headquartered in Chicago, which had mobile imaging and imaging refurbishment capability. We intended to have a back office capability to manage that refurbished technology and build an Internet capability to transfer technology efficiently around the world. That model did not get a tremendous amount of traction.