Sunday, October 28, 2007

Scott Shreeve, MD: Athena Health: The History of the First Health 2.0 IPO

Scott Shreeve, MD: Athena Health: The History of the First Health 2.0 IPO: "I have previously written on several occasions about one of my all-time favorite companies - Athena Health. It is appropriate to once again put finger to key to congratulate Jonathon Bush, Todd Park, Nancy Brown, Ed Park, Jon Hallock, and the rest of the Athenista's for their recent IPO (September 20, 2007). It was the largest IPO of 2007 and bodes well for the ongoing wave of investment in healthcare information technology. I find the history, growth, and now the prosperity of Athena to be fascinating. Athena was founded by my fellow IT co-conspirators, Jonathon Bush and Todd Park, Athena has steadily advanced over the last decade birthing the 'software as a service' (SaaS) model within healthcare industry. I say 'birthing' because I have watched the labor pains of Athena fairly closely over the last 5 years since first meeting Todd Park in Waterbury, CT on my first ever presentation with Medsphere. We discussed then, and watched again and again, as Athena began to take a bigger and bigger swipe at the 'healthcare hairball'. The hairball (or at least the part I am referring to) is the traditional general practice outpatient clinic. As you may be aware, ~80% of all medical care is delivered in an ambulatory office setting. The office setting is completely disparate - ranging from huge conglomerate multi-specialty practices (50-250+ MD's), to medium-sized groups (10-49 MD's), to the single shingle proprietors in Nowhere, ND. After somehow convincing Todd to leave a schlickety consulting gig at BAH to run a "single shingle" woman's health clinic near San Diego (Dude, I am so interested to know what the pitch was), Jonathon and crew tried to figure out how to make money in modern medicine.

Gumption after gumption, piece by piece, they were able to develop a software system that could actually manage the insurers and all their crazy denial rules. Those late night Mountain Dew runs started to pay off as they began to AGGREGATE data from various insurers to increase their percentage of first time claims approval. Soon, an emergent rules engine was developing based on the power of their ANALYTIC engine. This then allowed them to automatically ADVISE practices of insurance rule variations before they were submitted for adjudication. They began to share this software engine with the other clinics they purchased and soon were selling their services to affiliate organizations. (These three elements - AGGREGATE, ANALYZE, and ADVISE - are three core ingredients to Health 2.0 companies)."

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