FlorianWeiland’s HIS-tory• We learned in the first episode on NextGen how their QSI parent went way back to 1973 and Shelly Raizin’s dentistry system.• This week’s episode covers NextGen’s hospital financial system, Sphere, acquired in 2009, but whose roots go way back to 1972!• Sphere’s founder, FlorianWeiland, emigrated from Switzerland to Canada, along with his Engineering degree.• He moved to Toronto, which might have seemed warm to a Swiss native…• Florian had studied COBOL in college, and found a job programming a hospital Payroll system for an MAI Basic Four mini.• It took the mini 4 hours to process 600 FTEs, slow by today’s nano-standards, but far faster than the 4 days it took by hand!
A Monster Mini• Florian still remembers how this screaming mini really rocked the DP world then with: – 8 thousand bytes of core memory, and – 1.1 megabyte floppy disks for storage!• His first US hospital client was in Spokane, Washington in the early 80s, and they were running SMS’ SHAS shared financial system. • Next came Fountain Valley Hospital in CA that was running the early “Rubicon” LIS (some day, we’ll have to cover these early ancillary systems in Lab & RX too), and wanted to expand and modernize it. • Florian shifted his focus from financials to clinicals in one CPU cycle, and by 1981 had completed coding an entire new LIS!
Amazing Bargain… • It’s tough remembering 40 years back, but Florian thinks the total bill for writing the LIS was ≈$180K! • He met his next client on a flight from Toronto to a retreat in Montreal: the CEO of Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane.• Over dinner, Florian described a 600- bed Canadian client he was working for, the CEO joined Flori to visit them the next day, and was so impressed, he hired Florian to write software for his MAI Basic Four mini in 1983.• With all this business in hand, Florian started his own company in 1984 in warmy, sunny Orange County, CA, appropriately named: - American Financial Systems
The Name Game• The nameAFS didn’t jive much with Healthcare, his prime market, so Florian switched it in 1986 to “Integrated Hospital Solutions,” or I.H.S. for short.• Sound familiar? Regular readers of this HIS-tory might remember that name from episode 58 on Dairyland (you can catch them all at www.hispros.com).• Turns out to be the name of an IBM SYS 38-based HIS vendor in nearby La Jolla, CA., who took exception to use of their name, so Florian went back to the naming drawing board an this time came up with Tri-Cord Healthcare Information Systems. The name Tri- Cord lasted into the 90s, before Florian made his last name change• Like all the name changes, TriCordnext “RISC-ed” the switch to UNIX offering systems on DG AViiONs, HP9000s and IBM RS/6000s.
TriCord• TriCord grew well, reaching 80+ clients and per this old LIS survey:• Files were in ISAM at first, then switched to MS’ SQL.• In the 90s, TriCord made the switch to Windows PCs, using a Providex translator.
What Goes Up…• TriCord did well, but Florian chose some poor capital partners who both bled the firm dry.• Undaunted, Florian started over again, this time under the name Sphere Healthcare Information Systems, which name stuck. • Sphere grew steadily, gradually offering a complete set of hospital financials:both Patient Accounting (“RCM” for moderns) and general accounting (“ERP”). • If your hospital is in a search for a financial system, invite Florian in for a demo – anything he doesn’t have in his system, he’ll program for you while he’s there!
Search for a Clinical partner• Although he added a basic Order Entry system, Florian knew he needed a solid capital partneronce more, as well as a robust clinical partner to offer a full E.H.R.• He first started talking with Opus, a small start-up TX firm with a red hot E.H.R. that we’ll cover in depth in next week’s episode.• He also spoke with a VP named Rossiter at NextGen, the giant in the ambulatory market eager to get into the hospital market next. • Ironically, just as Florian was consummating his deal with NextGen to give Sphere a solid capital partner, he introduced them to Opus, his potential clinical partner and the rest, as they say, is HIS-tory!
Next Week…• So that’s how NextGen’s financial system evolved over four decades, like QSI.• Many thanks to FlorianWeiland for this fascinating story, and digging up these old files while he’s on vacation in the Caymans!• Next week we’ll cover the story of Tim Rhoads &Fred Beck’sOpus, their hospital EMR, and then finally Rick Opry’sIntraNexus, the final leg in NextGen’s HIS stool.