A Q&A with SA Ignite founder and CEO Tom Lee. The Chicago–based company was founded in 2009 and recently closed its Series A funding round.
SUB: Please describe SA Ignite and your value proposition.
Lee: We are a health IT software company that maximizes healthcare provider and staff efficiency by automating the collection, analysis and reporting of data. Our flagship product is MU Assistant, which automates electronic health record, or EHR, Meaningful Use reporting through which clinicians can earn up to $30 billion in aggregate incentives and avoid annual penalties for correctly utilizing an EHR. MU Assistant is like TurboTax for automating this currently tedious reporting process.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Lee: Health systems and large medical groups. Channel partners include EHR vendors and consultants.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Lee: In-house solutions built by target customers and certain health IT consultants marketing Meaningful Use dashboards.
SUB: What differentiates SA Ignite from the competition?
Lee: Our deep automation expertise has enabled us to be the only company to automate Meaningful Use data filing to Medicare and Medicaid, a process that otherwise takes hundreds or even thousands of manual steps. We are currently connected to seven of the top eleven EHR brands and can connect to a provider organization’s EHR without assistance from the EHR vendor. Our implementation time is typically less than six weeks, enabled by our rebuilt EHR connectors and automation expertise.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Lee: May 2009. First step was acquiring a consulting client who taught us about the customer needs and allowed us to see much earlier than competitors that there was going to be a need for a TurboTax equivalent for Meaningful Use reporting.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for SA Ignite? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Lee: The company was initially founded based on my experiences as a Kellogg MBA school student working hands on with an EHR system for a school project under the tutelage of Gary Mecklenberg, the former Chairman of the American Hospital Association. Through our consulting client, we were given the opportunity to develop and donate a free early version of our product to a large community of EHR consulting organizations. These organizations rapidly adopted the free version and asked for many features in a commercial product. So we built it.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Lee: The SA in our name are the first initials of my two young kids. One of them was a victim of a medical error at a hospital, which inspired me to switch from the wireless industry to health IT. Thankfully, he is ok.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Lee: Finding talent and choosing from the myriad of opportunities the ones we want to focus on.
SUB: You recently closed a Series A funding round. Can you disclose the amount?
Lee: We reported $1.5 million to the SEC, but the investment is traunched so there is more available to us from our lead investor.
SUB: What are your plans for the funds?
Lee: Scale implementation, technology and marketing staff.
SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise more outside funding?
Lee: Health IT M&A is very robust now, so investors see the return potential. Healthcare reform’s impact on health IT will easily be very large over the next 10 or more years.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Lee: Software subscription fees and some consulting fees.
SUB: What are your goals for SA Ignite over the next year or so?
Lee: Exceed 10,000 clinicians served and continue to exceed customer expectations
SA Ignite – www.saignite.com