Spokane Journal of Business

Rebranded INHS division expands its footprint

Engage now works with more than 100 hospitals

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Inland Northwest Health Services’ rebranded information-technology division, called Engage, has expanded its national footprint and accelerated its growth. 

The 15-year-old, information-management concern needed an upgrade, says new Engage chief executive Fred Galusha.

“We rebranded to better reflect the company’s vision of a nationwide footprint that’s grown outside of Washington state,” Galusha says. 

In 2008, the IT division provided services to 38 hospitals. Now, Galusha says, it’s serving more than 100 and following an accelerated growth model for 2016. Engage’s client contracts run from three to seven years.

INHS reported total revenue of $227.2 million in 2014, up from $200 million in 2013 and $190 million in 2012. Those figures include revenue from other INHS divisions, which include St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute, Northwest MedStar, Community Wellness, NW TeleHealth, Health Training, and Center of Occupational Health & Education.

The Engage division, located downtown in the Wells Fargo Center at 601 W. First, currently employs more than 200 people in Spokane.

Galusha initially was brought in by INHS in 1998 to fill its chief information officer slot, which he has done since being hired away from his former employer, Florida Hospital, in Orlando. 

INHS announced the rebranding of its health information-technology division under the name Engage last March and said it had named Galusha to head the division.

Looking at its hiring needs for the next 12 months, Galusha says, “We’re streamlined and extremely fast moving. Our team retention rate is high and we’re bringing in talent as we move across the U.S.” 

Michael Smyly, Engage’s chief business development officer, says INHS rebranded its IT division to encompass data security, financial systems, materials management, and billing. 

“We’re much more than an EHR (electronic health records) company,” Smyly says. “Meaningful use is a substantial part of our business model, but since rebranding, we’ve increased in scope, which ultimately translates to improved customer relations and enlarging our client base across North America.”

Engage expects more hospitals to seek its services as providers look to meet the government’s meaningful use standards by a July 2016 deadline. Meaningful-use standards are set up as a three-stage system that rewards health care facilities that accelerate the adoption of health information technology. The standards are set up and administered through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is one of the largest purchasers of health care in the world and represents more than 50 million beneficiaries. 

Galusha asserts that no Engage customer has failed to pass government validations of meaningful use stage 1 or stage 2. 

In addition, twelve of its clients have made Hospitals & Health Networks magazine’s 2015 “100 Most Wired” list. The listing is based on a survey of national hospitals and how they use IT to improve computer infrastructure, business and administrative management, quality of patient care, and clinical integration into the system as a whole. 

Engage’s primary customers are community hospitals, critical-access care facilities, and large rural hospitals, which are defined as those with up to 200 beds, and the INHS division is one of the largest partners of Meditech, which is based  in the United States.

“The continuing trend of health care providers to convert to electronic health records has the greatest potential for furthering our national footprint,” says Galusha. 

He says he also sees meaningful use standards translating into immediate growth for Engage as health care facilities scramble to meet the earlier mentioned deadline.

“As our customers undergo government testing and validation, complete Meditech system upgrades, and finally maintenance of their computer systems, this ultimately translates into thousands of billable hours for Engage,” Galusha says.

He says that’s because Engage derives income not only from training new and current hospital staff on the Meditech software, but also from “keeping our clients’ systems optimized.”

 “Engage’s goal is to be a complete information services company that extends beyond meaningful use,” Galusha says. With rebranding, the company has increased its product line to 18 services that include—among others—certified Meditech upgrade, hardware integration, disaster recovery, and facilitating the move from an old version of international classifications of diseases known as ICD-9 to ICD-10, which are used for patient charting and billing purposes.

Marcia Cheadle, senior director of advanced clinical systems for Engage and an emergency room nurse, says ultimately better information technology translates to better patient care.

Cheadle says there are six main goals for technological change in health care right now.

They are to improve the overall quality of care, prevent medical errors, reduce health care costs, increase administrative efficiency, make the move from paper to computer-based records, and lastly, expand access to affordable care. 

The push is on, she asserts. 

“Future avenues for the company are many if Engage can remain agile enough for an increasingly competitive market, which includes Dell Inc. as a major competitor. As IT budgets for health care ascend, the marketplace will become more competitive,” she says.

Data security is expected to be a fruitful area for Engage as security threats will increase as more health and financial data goes electronic, Cheadle says. 

In the coming years, meaningful-use stage three, or outcomes, will be of increasing importance, and Engage is well positioned to go after this business, she says. 

 “As health care moves forward, clinical mobility is an area of importance and is something we are actively studying. Mobility is the future of medicine,” Cheadle says.

  • Chris Street

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Chris received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas. Previously Street wrote for Men’s Fitness, worked in the Texas oil fields, and served as a research assistant investigating banks for a private investment group. Assignments for the Journal of Business range from healthcare and technology to finance. A graduate of the United States Army Infantry School in Fort Benning, Georgia, Chris enjoys reading in his spare time. A few of his favorite authors include Pearl S. Buck, Truman Capote, Robert Sapolsky, C.J. Chivers and Tom Wainwright.

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