STARTUPS TO WATCH: PatientWay

Peter
Peter Kovessy
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Being the first to market isn’t always the most attractive option, as Jay Lawrence can attest.

CEO of PatientWay, and OBJ Forty Under 40 recipient, Jay Lawrence. (file photo)

In fact, the head of PatientWay says the health care software supplier benefits from selling into a maturing market that increasingly sees the value in upgrading outdated patient information systems with simple, user-friendly interfaces.

“When we go into a hospital … they say they’ve been thinking about kiosks for a few years and are now thinking (about making a purchase),” says Mr. Lawrence.

“If I had been there three years ago, I’d still be waiting for them to buy my stuff.”

When patients traditionally arrive for an appointment at a hospital, they wait to see a clerk before undergoing a lengthy registration process. At health care facilities using PatientWay’s software and kiosks, that same patient can register at home and check in using a self-service kiosk at the hospital, similar to what airline passengers use at airports.

The system reduces the time patients spend waiting, and lowers labour costs for financially constrained hospitals by freeing up staff from admin duties to higher-value activities like patient treatment.

PatientWay’s products are in more than eight Ontario hospitals, and announced a deal with the Stronach Regional Cancer Centre in Newmarket earlier this month.

The young company has a sales cycle of six to 12 months, meaning PatientWay is bracing for a breakout year in 2011.

“Based on anecdotal evidence, we’re probably approaching (a market share) of 50 per cent,” says Mr. Lawrence.

“By March 31, I expect us to be the dominant market player in Ontario,” he says, adding the companies has contracts in the pipeline in the Prairies and will hire a U.S. sales rep in February.

Mr. Lawrence, a former pre-med student who switched to computer science and went on to found health care software development firm Infonium in 2000, says clients are choosing PatientWay over competitors because of its ability to link its software and kiosks to existing hospital systems.

When a patient goes to the hospital, they don’t have to tell five people their name, date of birth and address. They can get that information cleared away before they even show up, so when they arrive they get in... and get out. Founder and CEO Jay Lawrence

While cost overruns on mega-IT projects, like the effort to digitize Ontario health records, has some health care executives apprehensive about discussing procurement, Mr. Lawrence says PatientWay actually benefits from the pressure clients feel to show positive outcomes.

“We’re not very expensive, we have a business case that has a return on investment and we can be cost-neutral within one year,” he says.

“We’re fresh and have tons of energy walking into these selling situations and the customer, having thought about it for a number of years, is ready to go.”

Year founded: 2009

Local head count: 10

Funding to date: None

Product: Health care patient information software

Organizations: Stronach Regional Cancer Centre

Geographic location: Ontario, Newmarket, U.S. February.Mr

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