A technology company that first built a $30 million business selling a paper product? You got to be kidding! No, I am not. Read T-System’s story doing just that!
Sramana Mitra: Rob, let’s start with the beginning of your personal journey. Where are you from? Where did you grow up and in what kind of background?
Rob Langdon: I was born and raised in Canada. I’m still Canadian although I’m a US resident. I initially attended Engineering School – Electrical Engineering – after being fascinated my whole life with technology, electronics, and music. During the course of my studies, I was somewhat disillusioned with Electrical Engineering – that was in the 70s – because Electrical Engineering at that time did not really reach the digital age. Most of what we did, at least in my province in Canada, was develop power plants and 90% of engineers ended up working in hydro-electric power. Our computer systems were very rudimentary.
Then, I switched to Medicine. I thought that would be something that would be more interesting in the sense that it would combine science and human interaction. In the course of that, I discovered a new way to be excited with my career. That was the adventure of Emergency Medicine. I went to Emergency Medicine because they offered day-to-day excitement. I became an ER doctor. There wasn’t a single day that I came home bored.
Sramana Mitra: This is all happening in Canada?
Rob Langdon: Yes, in Canada. After a year of emergency medicine, I moved out to the US. Texas seemed to be the land of opportunities. They needed many physicians. I walked into this emergency department in Texas. In comparison, there were many different backgrounds. There was high acuity trauma. It was quite exciting. I practiced Medicine in the ER for 15 years. I really enjoyed it.
We had problems that all ER doctors faced – the problems of tremendously increasing volumes of patients in unscheduled care and increasing law suits against my colleagues and myself by very aggressive attorneys for medical malpractice. We were faced with increasing regulation especially with the way we document life and death activity. You would think the most stressful activity is taking care of the patients. Often, it’s when you’re charting. It determines how you get paid, whether you can defend yourself in court, or whether you’re going to be attacked by a federal regulator.
My colleague, the co-founder of the company who’s from Texas, and I started looking for that specific step in the workflow of an emergency physician. When we looked at it, we realized that doctors spend maybe 30% to 40% of their time documenting information. We came up with a very simple but extremely effective solution that was quite different from what was being proposed and marketed. That was a set of paper template that would wrap up all of the problems. The system initially consisted of 65 complaint specific templates.
In a very eloquent way, it displayed the information that the doctor needed to chart each patient to help them solve the problem. It helped the physician comply with regulations. It helped the doctor receive reimbursement they were entitled to, and protect them legally; yet made them faster. They were able to spend more time with the patient. They were able to go the bedside and sit down with the patient with a simple piece of paper and spend an extra 30 seconds to a minute with the patient. It had multiple benefits. Doctors would also generally improve their reimbursement.