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One-on-One With Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman, Part III

November 5, 2009
by root
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In this part of our interview, Tullman says Allscripts prepared for the coming HIT shortage by “stockpiling” talent.

As one of the main vendors in the ambulatory EHR space, Allscripts has been getting a lot of calls since HITECH moved the market. But in a change from the past, those calls are not only coming from interested physicians, but from hospital CIOs who want to underwrite licenses for both owned and independent practices. As the vendor’s deal with North Shore Long Island Jewish attests, the sale of ambulatory EHRs is, more and more, moving through the hospital CIO office. To learn more about how HITECH is effecting the sale of outpatient EHRs, HCI Editor-in-Chief Anthony Guerra recently talked with Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman about where he sees the market going.

(Part I, Part II)

GUERRA: Let’s talk about the Misys/Allscripts merger. I’ll read you a quote I found which came out at the time: “Misys’s culture was a bit more buttoned down and customer-oriented than Allscripts’s freewheeling style.” I would think it was easy to innovate when you had a freewheeling style, but has that been dampened by the merger? How have the cultures come together?

TULLMAN: First of all, this is without question one of the most successful mergers that’s been done in healthcare. We have exceeded the market expectations in any number of ways. There were expectations put out there for cost synergies, we exceeded those, there were cross-selling expectations of us selling into the Misys base, we’ve exceeded those, and we have lost no senior executives that we wanted to retain.

We did this merger and only a few months later the stimulus was announced. Of course it positioned us extremely well, creating the largest customer base in healthcare. What a lot of people don’t know is that Misys, which used to be Medic, was founded by an entrepreneur named John McConnell.

GUERRA: He’s the one who said that quote.

TULLMAN: Yes. John McConnell also founded a company called Aid for Health Systems which we acquired a few years back. Those two companies were about nine miles apart in North Carolina, and when we put them back together, it was really two twins coming back together and getting to know themselves.

In terms of the culture, I think when a company grows, you want to keep some of the entrepreneurialism, some of that energy, and you want to add some process – that’s the balance you want. So we’ve tried to take the best people from both cultures, the best processes from both cultures, the best entrepreneurial traits from both cultures and blend them together, and I think so far we’ve done a pretty good job of that.

Now I can tell you there were people who initially predicted it wouldn’t go well, there were people who initially predicted we would be cutting a lot of jobs. We’re actually hiring at every one of our facilities around the country and around the world. The business is growing, and obviously we’re coming off of a very successful quarter. There is no question that each of the cultures has had to adjust to create a new culture, which is the best of both.

GUERRA: Do you technically report to someone with Misys in London?

TULLMAN: No. Allscripts is a NASDAQ traded company, completely independent. Our largest shareholder is Misys PLC which is a London-based company.

GUERRA: Did you have more freedom of action before the merger?

TULLMAN: I had a board of directors before. I have a board of directors now. They’re different directors, but at every company I run I have a different board of directors and those boards change over a period of time. As a CEO, and I’m not sure it’s different than most CEOs, we spend a certain period of time determining where the company needs to go in the future, and a big chunk of time with existing and prospective clients. Then you have to deliver the numbers.

If you do the first two well – determine the vision and spend a lot of time with your customers – the numbers take care of themselves. We’ve been fortunate that since the merger, each quarter we’ve delivered all the numbers and the expectations of the market, and that’s what a CEO gets paid to do.

So in terms of our ability to innovate and do the things we like to do, there’ve been no restrictions on our ability to do any of those things. Initially when Misys bought Medic, it was one, Misys, headed out of London. That’s why it didn’t work well. Two years ago or almost three years ago now, there was a turnaround team that came to Misys. That team was headed by an American named Mike Lawrie, and that turnaround team understood that it needed to be run very differently.