Sramana Mitra: Relatively speaking, we are very young. Having an exit and getting a chunk of money and then what? You can’t eat money.
Girish Navani: Very true. Then what? People ask the question, “Girish, why don’t you do this?” Then I ask the same question you asked, “Then what?” None of those answers have been exciting. I have found a cause at healthcare. In healthcare, there’s a purpose behind – we can help somebody live a better life, live a healthier life, or get diagnosed sooner because technology created that platform. Beyond profitability, we’ve done something for society even though it’s a for-profit and not a non-profit.
Sramana Mitra: If you can add value to society in a for-profit mode, I think it’s a much more sustainable model.
Girish Navani: Very true.
Sramana Mitra: I don’t particularly like the idea of having to go raise foundation money and all that.
Girish Navani: I think you’re right. Innovation creates value. Use that to generate both growth in the company and growth in the principle. You have mentioned Amazon. I have a fascination for their business model, which is doing everything between consumers and supply.
Sramana Mitra: Vertical integration.
Girish Navani: Yes. I expect to see eClinicalWorks as a vertically integrated company for healthcare and even wellness. That’d be exciting. It’s short of owning the delivery standpoint itself or owning the practice of medicine, which we won’t get into. I think we’ll close into that practice and connect it all the way to the consumer.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s take the thought process a bit further. How do you view the industry right now? When you look at the different players who are trying to serve the same purpose of making the healthcare world better using technology, who stands out as making interesting progress and contribution?
Girish Navani: What is fascinating to me, and I encourage this, is for the first time in a long time, I am seeing a significant excitement for healthcare and technology innovation. Technology in healthcare was not considered to be so cool 15 years ago. It was dull. It was for the geeks. It wasn’t for hardcore entrepreneurs.
Sramana Mitra: Healthcare IT has seen a renaissance.
Girish Navani: Big time. That renaissance will really merge companies that you and I don’t necessarily talk about today, but their business models are appealing—find me physicians wherever I can, find the cost of care, transmit my medical records to my provider of care, allow the doctor to do tele-medicine versus trying to do traditional medicine, allow providers to communicate with other providers but not through traditional health information exchange models, which I think are primarily there to hide the duplicacy. This is in contrast with patients carrying their information on a smartphone to another provider of care. These business models are going to take shape.
I think we’ve finished the first or second innings of a baseball game of digitizing healthcare. About 80% to 90% now have an EMR in the hospital or in the doctor’s office. We just think that’s the first leg of doing anything substantial. It’s too early to say which five companies are going to have a big impact. Companies that are focusing on using cloud and this idea of tying consumers to suppliers and suppliers to other suppliers and break the mould of this traditional payer-based system of healthcare will create a big dynamic difference. We expect to be one of them, but we do fully expect many, many more.
Sramana Mitra: athenahealth is doing good work.
Girish Navani: They’re doing well. But many others are not. You should not just look at these five to six companies including us as people that can make a difference.
Sramana Mitra: There are small companies.
Girish Navani: 15 years ago, we were nobody. I remember this day when we went on stage in 2002. Siemens presented before us and GE presented after us. There were five of us at that show, and that was 95% of our industry. We were the nobodies of this industry. Today, those two companies in healthcare don’t have the same presence, if you’re being very polite.