That companies involved in health IT have benefited tremendously from the focus on electronic medical records and the desire to create an open, efficient healthcare system is no where more evident than at Ability Network.
The Minneapolis health network bills itself as the largest web-based health network used by more than half the hospitals in the country. Other customers include Medicare, thousands of doctor’s offices, skilled nursing facilities, labs, billing agencies and other entities.
Now the company aims to hire more workers and build more services so that customers of the network can use it more broadly for clinical purposes rather than just administrative. Those services ultimately will improve patient safety and patient care. And the $27 million Ability, formerly known as VisionShare, raised from venture capitalists should come into play here.
Earlier this week, the company announced that it had raised that sum from Bain Capital Ventures, the venture arm of Bain Capital, one of the largest private equity firms in the world, and Lemhi Ventures, an existing Ability investor. (Ability plans to amend a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to reflect that it has raised $7 million more than what it disclosed to the SEC in a prior filing.)
Ability has a service currently by which an alert email can be sent to a hospital’s patient safety officer or quality officer if a patient is admitted with incomplete medical information. The company’s CEO Mark Briggs wants to build on these patient safety services to improve patient care.
That expansion will need more workers and Briggs said that Ability plans to “hire aggressively” this year with plans to bring employment up to 170 and maybe more by the end of 2011. Currently, 145 people work at Ability. All those positions will be in its Minneapolis headquarter location.
Ability has also been involved in a federal initiative called the Direct Project that establishes standards and documentation to support transmitting data from where it resides to where it’s needed, to boost improved interoperability in the future. The company was part of the first pilot of the Direct Project launched in February through which Hennepin County Medical Center sent immunization data to the Minnesota Department of Health using its web-based, secure health network. Briggs reaffirmed his commitment to the Direct Project in a phone interview this week.
“We think there’s huge opportunity in taking this large, national network that we have built through all these years and enable the type of interaction that the Internet has enabled more generally in every other industry … so that the silly friction that exists today between caregivers and administrators, and patients and insurers can be obviated,” Briggs said. “We can go back to providing better healthcare and substantially lower price points.”
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