Interview With New Medsphere CEO Michael Doyle

Michael J. Doyle has a distinguished entrepreneurial career. He recently joined Medsphere as its new President and CEO, replacing Dr. Kenneth Kizer. Doyle has served as President and CEO of Advantedge Healthcare Solutions, a New York-based Software as a Service (SaaS) outsourced physician-billing company backed by private equity investors. From 2000 to 2004, Mike served as Chairman and CEO of Salesnet. In 1989 Mike founded The Standish Care Company, a provider of assisted living and long-term care services. As Chairman and CEO he guided it through the first successful initial public offering (IPO) for an assisted-living service provider in 1992. A series of mergers and acquisitions resulted in the merger in 1996 of Standish with Carematrix; after the merger Mike served as CEO of the combined companies, which retained the Carematrix name. Mike’s efforts ultimately yielded a highly successful organization with a market capitalization in excess of $500 million. In his career, Mike has held senior management positions at Voluntary Hospitals of America, and Tenet Healthcare Corporation’s predecessor National Medical Enterprises. He received a bachelor of science in biology with a minor in community health from Tufts University, and an MBA with a focus on healthcare and finance from the University of Chicago, where he was a Kaiser Fellow.

LMN: I Googled for you before the interview and I found Congressman Mike Doyle and a professional surfer named Mike Doyle, are you any of those?

MD: I’m the surfer. (laughs)

LMN: What will be your new role at Medsphere?

MD: President and CEO.

LMN: What made you want to be CEO of Medsphere?

MD: Medsphere offers an outstanding platform to reduce costs in healthcare, improve quality reduce cost and reduce paper waste in a very cost-effective way. It needs an evangelist and I believe I can tell the story quite well. I’m sure you’ve seen stories about a National Health exchange and how it can reduce costs; this company can be a prime mover to realize this savings. I think one of the dramatic things that this company has achieved despite the distractions has been to sign new customers. By the end of this year we will have 6 or 7 implementations simultaneously underway. I believe that CIO’s are beginning to understand the value proposition that Medsphere is offering. I was speaking to the CEO of a very large hospital chain about his experience with Health IT and he replied that he has not received one dollar of return for his investment in Health IT. I told him about Medsphere and he told me that he thinks that Medsphere might achieve such a return. I spoke with David Wiles of Midland [7 hospitals running FOIA VistA], it was phenomenal to see the dedication and enthusiasm of David and his team. Even more exciting was speaking to end users who are using the product. David believes he has a 98-99% adoption rate by physicians which if phenomenal. A number of physicians have trained on the VA system. It is a relatively easy system to use by clinicians and that is why there is a relatively high adoption rate.

LMN: What do you hope to accomplish as President/CEO of Medsphere?

MD: Have Medsphere be the prime mover in the Open Source area for Health IT. Develop a community around Medsphere. Whether that is with WorldVistA or not remains to be seen.

LMN: In the past, Medsphere has been seen as at odds with, critical of, or not particularly cooperative with the VistA community. Can you outline your plans for Medsphere to work with the VistA community?

MD: It is my intent to reach out to them and have a discussion and see if there is a similar vision around the OpenVistA project and whether we can create a community of similar vision to keep the project going.

LMN: What will be your relationship with the WorldVistA organization?

MD: I don’t know that we have a well-defined relationship at this point; again it is my intent to reach out to them and have a meaningful discussion and common vision.

LMN: It has been said that: “Medsphere could have been the “RedHat of Medical IT” that our community desperately needs. Instead they are the “Enron of Medical IT”.” because of the lawsuit against its founders Scott and Steve Shreeve. What are your thoughts on that?

MD: I can’t really comment on the lawsuit because it is an ongoing lawsuit. I’m not part of it and I will not be part of it. I hope that it gets settled soon. That’s the intent, or I hope that is the intent of all involved. I don’t know what you mean by Enron. I absolutely believe that this company has the ability to be the Redhat of Health IT.

LMN: What does Free/Open Source software mean to you?

MD:I believe it is all about empowering the user and community. If the user has the source code they are not at the mercy of a specific vendor. Traditionally the customers of Health IT have been universally unhappy with their vendor. For years these vendors have controlled their customers and focused on licensing sales, this has created an impedance or mismatch between customers and vendors. We essentially give away the software and focus on support and service of the software to make our customers happy. To really make this model go, increase dramatically, we have to create an ecosystem around the OpenVista core. We absolutely want to reach out to WorldVistA and others to create the community. We are going to reach out to system implementers and VAR’s as well. As you know there are holes with OB/GYN, Pediatrics and others we are going to fill those holes as the market asks us to. Another example is that there are no nursing flow sheets and we are creating that. Another way is for us to work with experts in the field that wish to be part of our ecosystem.

LMN: Medsphere can play the Free/Open Source software card, reaping the goodwill of Free/Open Source while locking in customers by partially using proprietary products. What is your stance on this? Under your control will Medsphere be a ‘pure’ Free/Open Source company or a hybrid Free/Open Source and proprietary software company?

MD: It’s too early. I’ve been on the job for a week so it is too early to definitively answer that question. Most companies run a hybrid model. That’s something we are looking at. I have to spend some time researching this.

LMN: Are there plans of releasing more Medsphere products as Free/Open Source? If so, what is the nature of those products and when is that planned?’

MD: You can absolutely count on us releasing more products as Open Source; we are releasing an OpenVista update very soon. We are also releasing code for other Open Source projects. The company intends to be in the Open Source market as a differentiator from other companies and you will see these types of releases in the future.

LMN: Are you satisfied with the company performance so far?

MD: My job is to look at the future for the company. It has a tremendous amount of potential and my job is to align all team members: the employees, the board, the management and the community with the market. If we get everyone rowing in the right direction there is nothing that will stop this company. This company has tremendous potential and it is why I am here.

LMN: What is Medsphere’s plans for the future?

MD: I talked a little bit about that already. We will continue to be a leader in the Open Source Health IT. We will go to market as a direct and indirect market with the community, system integrators and VAR’s. In the next 2 years we hope to have a very vibrant community around the OpenVistA product.

LMN: Any final words?

MD: I appreciate your interest in the Medsphere company and I hope to speak to you again as we go forward.

LMN: That would be great.

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