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Health IT startup knocks down barriers with international deal

on July 12, 2011 Source:

A health IT startup that creates software to connect medical providers at long-term care facilities with patients’ family members has recently signed its first international client.

Aside from the new business, the customer brought another benefit to Columbus, Ohio-based Connect for Healthcare. Because the client is based in Canada and requires a French-language version of the software, Connect for Healthcare was forced to tweak its technology to enable it to be customized for multiple foreign languages. That could help open new geographic markets for the two-and-a-half-year-old company.

“The deal does two important things for us,” said Neil Moore, Connect for Healthcare’s CEO. “We now have a footprint in Canada with a market leader in that country. And, as a result of the requirement that our service become multilingual, it opens a global door for us.”

Moore said the company has had “a number of” inquiries from international customers, but couldn’t help them because “language was always an issue.”

Connect for Healthcare completed its first implementation for the Canadian client, Residences Allegro, in March and expects to be live in 42 locations throughout the country by the end of the month. Residences Allegro bills itself as the largest network of private retirement homes in Quebec and the third-largest in Canada.

The company’s subscription-based service allows for status updates via email, text message or the Web to an unlimited number of family members or friends. The updates feature “wellness metrics” (Is Mom eating? Sleeping? Walking?) that can be customized to reflect specific questions or concerns of family members.

Connect for Healthcare’s value proposition to providers is that its service increases patient and family satisfaction, saves staff time from having to field phone calls from family members and creates better and more frequent documentation.

In addition to selling to nursing homes and hospices, Connect for Healthcare has broken into one new market — adult day care — and is looking to add clients in another — behavioral health centers, such as those that provide counseling to substance abusers. The company recently signed a deal with Unity Health System in Rochester, New York, to provide its service to six adult day care centers, Moore said.

For the behavioral health market, the company’s software could be effective in providing patient status updates to the medical providers that referred patients to a facility, Moore said. He sees the behavioral health market holding potential of up to $50 million and said Connect for Healthcare received positive feedback at a recent meeting of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers.

Like most startups, Connect for Healthcare could use a sales and marketing boost to grow revenue. The company is seeking a $500,000 investment for that reason. “It’s all about making things go bigger and faster,” Moore said.

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