Cary medical software firm Medfusion growing quickly after sale

dbracken@newsobserver.comJanuary 10, 2014 

Nearly five months after buying back the Cary medical software company he founded, Steve Malik says he’s reveling in being back in charge of a smaller, independent firm.

Malik, who sold Medfusion to Intuit for $91 million in 2010, bought it back for an undisclosed sum in August. He has since brought on Vern Davenport, an experienced health care executive, as an equity partner and president.

“While there was a lot of great things a corporate giant like that can bring to the party, we’re reveling in our ability to move quickly, pivot and make decisions without having to get as many people aligned,” Malik said this week.

As an example, Malik said the company has gotten rid of the walls in its Cary offices “and created a much more collaborative work environment. And we did it quickly.”

The business, which had been known as Intuit Health, has also taken back the Medfusion name. The company’s software enables patients to make appointments, pay their bills, request prescription refills, complete medical forms, review lab results and perform other tasks over the Internet. Physicians pay a monthly subscription fee for online and mobile access for their office and patients.

Medfusion brought on 12 new employees this week, bringing its headcount in Cary to about 100. Malik said one of the biggest changes between Intuit Health and Medfusion today is resource allocation.

When it was part of Intuit, the company behind the popular software packages Quicken and TurboTax, the business had 12 people involved in marketing. Now Medfusion has two. The employees hired this week were mostly engineers, developers and people responsible for tech support. Malik said Medfusion is gearing up to roll out new functionality for its software, innovations that he declined to disclose.

“We’re investing heavily in the product, and we think that’s our path to solving problems for customers,” he said. “We think we’ll be substantially larger as we start putting our new solutions into the field.”

Medfusion can do that in part because most of its new business comes through partnerships with practice management companies, consultants, and insurance and billing services companies. The company’s software is used by 65,000 doctors and more than 8 million patients.

The challenge for Medfusion is continuing to innovate while keeping its software reliable and easy for patients and doctors to use. A major reason that Davenport, a former CEO of Misys Healthcare, was brought on was to help the company execute on its ambitious plans while CEO Malik focuses on innovation.

“It’s not just about technology alone, it’s about the technology and the successful adoption of that technology,” Davenport said.

Intuit Health had revenue of about $16 million in 2013, down from $18 million during the previous year. Intuit sold the unit as part of the publicly traded company’s efforts to focus on its tax business and provide operating systems for small businesses.

Medfusion is hoping to capitalize on the massive shift to digital health records that is expected to come as part of the new health care law.

Malik said the government estimates 85 percent of doctors will participate in the digitization effort, but just 1 of 5 now does. He said the shift will begin in earnest this year, as the government begins mandating that doctors send their patients a digital summary of their chart.

“We think there’s a great opportunity – that we’re at the dawn of a sea change in how patients get their data,” Malik said.

Bracken: 919-829-4548; Twitter: @brackendavid

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