Dr. Edward N. Barthell is CEO of EmOpti, a Wisconsin company that provides innovative technology to health systems to speed up patient flow in acute care facilities, improving staff productivity and expanding facility capacity. He recently took the time to tell us more about the company, how it was founded and its progress so far.
Q: How was the idea for Emopti developed and started?
A: Dr. Edward Barthell worked clinically as an emergency physician for over 20 years and became intimately familiar with the problems of matching fixed resources to the variable demands of unscheduled care. On slow days, too many staff on duty results in excessive costs, and on busy days patients suffer from long waits and poor outcomes. Dr. Barthell also worked in health informatics for many years, including several years recently with Microsoft Health Solutions Group in Seattle. He wanted to return to Wisconsin and start a new company that addressed the problems he faced as a clinician.
Q: Who are your key customers and where do you see growth opportunities?
A: Key customers are health systems across the country that operate multiple acute care facilities. While these systems have often consolidated management and back office functions, there is an opportunity to help them save costs and improve patient outcomes by also consolidating and integrating clinical care system-wide.
Q: Why do you believe your business model has the potential for success in the marketplace?
A: EmOpti technology enables health systems to utilize advanced analytics and integrate on-site care with virtual care interventions in a way that reduces labor costs for on-site care by up to 20% while simultaneously resulting in improved clinical outcomes and patient experience.
Q: What stage is the company at today, and what have been some milestones along the way?
A: EmOpti technology has been implemented at 12 hospitals. Customers have now completed more than 250,000 virtual consultations, with hundreds more occurring every day. These customers have seen consistently positive patient results, including decreased wait times, improved patient and provider experience, and positive return on investment for facility operators. EmOpti was recently chosen as one of six finalists for the 2019 Startup of the Year by the American Hospital Association, and Dr. Barthell was recognized this year with a President’s Award for Innovation in Clinical Practice by the American College of Emergency Physicians.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge for you and your team? What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs facing similar challenges?
A: Sales to health systems are hard. Health system management is bombarded with multiple challenges and priorities. Breaking through the noise is a difficult process. Our advice for others often follows the “three P’s” as described by Steve Case in his recent book The Third Wave:
- Stay on top of relevant emerging policy, as health care is a highly regulated industry.
- Combine work with other talented individuals and organizations for leverage.
- Solving hard problems can take a long time, but continued effort can bear fruit.
Q: What are some resources that have contributed to Emopti’s success so far?
A: Workforce—we have been able to recruit very talented employees, most of whom benefited from outstanding education in Wisconsin. Advisors—valuable input from a diverse group ranging from technology consultants to legal team to marketers to our board of directors. Customers/partners—our initial customers, including Advocate Aurora Health, have provided extensive feedback on our products to ensure they are beneficial in their environments. Investors—we have had solid support from our investors, and in particular, support from WEDC has provided incentives that have enabled us to expand the depth and quality of our investor group.
Q: How does Emopti benefit from being located in Wisconsin?
A: Wisconsin is a great environment for providing access to the resources detailed above. The work ethic and values of the people we are honored to work with, and for, are outstanding. The cost of living and quality of life for our employees is fantastic. It is a fun place to be, and we are excited about the future!