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One-on-One With Greenway Medical Technologies President Tee Green, Part II

January 1, 2010
by root
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In this part of our interview, Green says EMR vendors unfortunately need two R&D budgets — one for customers and one for Washington.

Consistently earning top marks in KLAS’ small physician practice EMR category, Greenway Medical Technologies seems to prove the point that a limited focus equals increased quality. But will the Siren’s call to tackle larger quarry be succumbed to? And would such an expansion of focus lead to diminished results? To learn more about this quiet but capable vendor, HCI Editor-in-Chief recently caught up with President Tee Green to find out how HITECH is effecting small practice EMR providers.


(Part I)


GUERRA: We were talking about how some vendors are operating on outdated technologies. Is that because you inevitably lose some customers during a major upgrade?


GREEN: Well, that can be a component of it, but it’s also very expensive to rewrite and retrain an R&D team. There are some of our competitors whose whole business has been built around buying a bunch of different products and trying to cobble them together. Well, now they have all these different R&D teams, they’ve got all the different domain experience, so to take all these people and say, “Stop what you’re doing. Rewrite this thing in Web architecture, but make sure it still has all the rich functionality and all the workflow,” is not practical. That’s a difficult process for a company to take on.

We were fortunate enough to come along at a time when we understood the technology platforms and the difference between the interior architecture systems versus a client/server system. I’m not saying we’re any smarter than anybody else, but we arrived at a different time.


GUERRA: When you re-wrote the app in .NET, was it painful?


GREEN: Well, the main thing for us is we spent the first four years in R&D. I didn’t have hundreds of customers whose workflow I had to disrupt. We were at a different time in our evolution than some of these other companies that have grown through purchases.


GUERRA: The one negative comment in the KLAS mid-year report was that you didn’t have the most timely enhancement releases.


GREEN: I’m not sure what the question was that got that response. We do three major releases a year, so maybe that’s not fast enough for some people. I don’t know. We’re pretty methodical on how we do it. Some of that can be how the question was asked.

GUERRA: How many employees do you have?


GREEN: I think we’re around 320 today and growing quite rapidly. We’re partnering with universities for a pretty neat incubator program. We have a pretty big consulting program that can help deliver these technologies, mainly from an implementation and training perspective. As our backlogs continued to grow, we recognized two years ago there’s no way we’re going to be able to hire and train this many people. That’s why you see these regional extension centers coming out. But we did start building a consulting program that has really almost increased our abilities by 100 percent. You’ve got to make sure you’re managing the quality and the training because they’re not your team, so you need to understand and manage that.


GUERRA: We’ve been talking about the HIT worker shortage, so how are you going to keep your people from being lured away?


GREEN: I think you have to create a work environment where people can thrive and be successful and provide for their families, and we’ve tried to create a long-term business plan here at Greenway. So we’ve passed the first 10-year mark in our history and now we’re preparing for the next 10 years. So our business model is if we can find the top talent in the United States and attract them, they can be a part of the organization, be part of extreme innovation in the healthcare industry, provide some really life-saving technologies to the industry. If that excites you, we’re going to reward you, we’re going to compensate you, and we’re going to allow you to be part of this very unique team. If you’re that type of person, you can probably build a career here. So we’ll have to be more attractive than our competition and compete with the regional extension centers.

There are also some people that don’t fit our model. Some people aren’t cut out to work in one business for the next 15 or 20 years. You know, they like to spend three years here, three years there. That’s not the person we look for.


GUERRA: How do you feel about competing against a center that’s gotten $8 million from the government?