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Integration for healthcare organizations is a big problem for the industry, for a variety of reasons. Integration solutions have often been expensive, meaning they require a big upfront investment. They are slow to deploy, and take a lot of time to implement, plus and they are difficult to maintain and require additional resources to fix if something goes wrong.
Bridge Connector is looking to solve this problem by creating a model to allow any size healthcare organization to easily send data back and forth by providing a new type of solution: integration platform as a service.
"To make it very simple, we are a middleware engine for healthcare and we connect electronic medical records software with other disparate systems," David Wenger, CEO of Bridge Connector, told me in an interview.
On Tuesday, the company announced a seed investment of $4.5 million. The round was led by Axioma Ventures LLC, which is backed by Howard Jenkins, former CEO of Publix Super Markets.
"Publix grocery store is probably one of the most respected grocery chains in the country. Pharmacies, ATM networks, you name it, and I’m fortunate enough to be able to talk to Howard Jenkins, who is the ex-CEO of Publix, every day. He’s someone that’s helped mentor me as we’re growing this company at an extremely fast pace. It’s very exciting to me to be able to have that resource and mentorship," said Wenger.
Other investors include Alex Jenkins, co-founding partner of Axioma Ventures; Hannibal Baldwin, Chief Financial Officer of Baldwin Beach Capital and Co-CEO of SiteZeus; and Jeffrey S. Wenger, M.D., a board-certified gastroenterologist.
This round brings the company's total funding to $5 million, following a friends and family round it had previously raised.
Founded in 2017, and headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, with additional offices in Knoxville and Nashville, Bridge Connector works with organizations such as nursing homes, post-acute care facilities, addiction treatment and behavioral health facilities, hospitals, MRI and radiology imaging facilities and labs to help them integrate different APIs into their EMR systems.
"You name it, we’re trying to tackle it within healthcare, but our real niche right now is that we work very closely with Salesforce. We’re an app partner with Salesforce and, essentially, what we’ve done is we work very closely with them with helping their clients integrate Salesforce with whatever other disparate systems they’re using," Wenger explained.
"A big play in healthcare right now is the ability to utilize Salesforce for its marketing purposes, its health cloud for patient data, and then the admission process of a patient and scheduling process of a patient. So all these healthcare organizations across the entire country are purchasing Salesforce and they had no way to easily integrate it with their electronic medical records, which is federally mandated that all healthcare systems use electronic medical records."
The service launched around a year ago and now has 25 customers with thousands of locations across the country. It is quadrupling revenue month-over-month and has "a significant run rate.
Unlike others in the space, including Mulesoft, Bridge Connector differentiates itself by offering a full service solution.
"The key differentiator between us and them is the fact that we’re full service. Mulesoft provides a very nice tool for IT teams or developers to use to built these integrations. We have essentially built our own platform and we handle the full service aspect of it, all included at that one low price that we charge our clients. All the other competitors do the same thing: they target the developers and that side of the business, whereas we focus on: how can we help the clients as efficiently as possible? We do it full service, from start to finish, and there’s no need for a developer, or hiring additional resources, to be able to support the integrations they’re paying us for," said Wenger.
The company, Wenger told me, is able to save companies time and money with its integrations, in both the time it takes to admit a patient, which can be cut by as much as 80 percent, as well as to set up the system itself.
"We’ve been able to calculate the fact that with our subscription, we charge a small monthly fee, there’s no upfront fees, there’s no hidden surprises, it’s all included in our monthly package, and what’s different among the competitors that are out there is if you hire someone to build it custom, on a one-off basis, it would take months and probably between $90,000 to $150,000 just to get it up and running. Then you have to maintain it, because APIs change, so that’s how we tie into the system. APIs change so we include all updates as part of our subscription, so if the connection broke six months down the road after you originally had it built out by these other companies, you’d have to go and rehire someone to fix the integration, where with us any updates, any new features, any breakage, any issues are covered by our monthly subscription."
The new financing will be used to continue expanding its employee base, specifically to build out its support, sales, and management teams. In January, Bridge Connector had just six employees and is now up to 25. By the end of this year it will most likely be at 40 to 45 employees.
"We’re going around the entire country right now with Salesforce and really trying to help educate their sales people on what we do so that we can help them in selling their product. We’re spending a lot of resources right now in entertaining clients, sponorships, marketing and really on expansion of our internal team, because the talent it takes to build a great company is everything. These people we’re hiring are some of the most qualified people I’ve ever met and I enjoy working with them every day," said Wenger.
In addition, the company plans to use the funding to increase its revenue streams. For example, the company will be a new product, which will launch in the next few months called EMPI, or enterprise master patient index.
"We have integrations for these healthcare organizations, and a patient sometimes gets seen multiple times across many different healthcare systems. We’ve found a way to put this algorithm within our system that detects patient duplicates, so a duplicate record for a patient can’t be created within the same healthcare organization, despite our integrations we have algorithm that determines, 'Hey, this patient's already been here, they can’t create new chart, it will update their existing chart.'So that’s one of the things we’ll add on that’s a tack on to our current services," Wenger explained.
"The organizations don’t get paid on a patient if you don’t have a correct medical record for them. By doing this, we make sure that the facility’s going to get paid for the work that they render, and the patient’s going to get the best quality of care."
The healthcare system is transforming, he said, due to the number of companies that house data for patients and health systems.
"What’s being done now is a lot of these companies, the EMR or EHR companies, are actually developing these APIS so that companies like us have the ability to build the intgration so they can easily allow for interoperability in healthcare. That’s been the biggest discussion; everybody talks about interoperability, but what’s actually being done to help in that?" he said.
"I want to see the company as the number one integration company in healthcare. We pride ourselves on the fact we are a pioneer in the industry, or we’re trying to be a pioneer in the industry. We have a long way to go to get there, but we’re really trying to help healthcare systems, whether it’s a hospital, a nursing home, the smallest size doctor office in Duluth, Minnesota, wherever it is, to have a way to be able to get the data to where it needs to go. That’s why we created the company, so that any data can be sent anywhere that the doctor or the healthcare organization wants it to go."
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