Pet project's collector to head for Healtheon and Hyperion

Santa Clara 01 October 1998 The true pioneering spirit is never afraid of letting go to seek new adventure in an inspiring challenge. Healtheon saw the light in 1996 as a provider of advanced Internet-based solutions for the health care industry. Founder of this company which develops and manages virtual health care networks is Jim Clark, the paragon of unconventional entrepreneurship. Before going telemedicine, this talented Texan rebel launched two ventures which proved to be extremely successful. Names like Silicon Graphics and Netscape indeed ring a whole carillon of bells...

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The true pioneering spirit is never afraid of letting go to seek new adventure in an inspiring challenge. Healtheon saw the light in 1996 as a provider of advanced Internet-based solutions for the health care industry. Founder of this company which develops and manages virtual health care networks is Jim Clark, the paragon of unconventional entrepreneurship. Before going telemedicine, this talented Texan rebel launched two ventures which proved to be extremely successful. Names like Silicon Graphics and Netscape indeed ring a whole carillon of bells...

Now, it is Healtheon's turn to go public and thus underline the revolutionary approach of streamlining patient data by means of information technology. In the meanwhile, Jim Clark is already literally setting sail for his next undertaking. Hyperion is no less than a $30 million ship of some 155 foot, stuffed with electronics gear and 20 computers to serve as a model for elaborate control systems, which sooner or later will be applied to homes, commercial buildings and industrial processes. The boat is scheduled to be launched in November from the Royal Huisman Shipyard in the Netherlands.

At the same time, Healtheon's chief executive officer Mike Long will sail this supplier of multiple online health care administration services through the shaky financial markets. In the second quarter, the Santa Clara company lost $12.2 million on revenues not even exceeding the amount of $11 million but analysts do not cease to point out both the solidity of the management and the potential of the new technology. Still, the health care industry will take its time to convert to Healtheon's Web-based services and multi-tier platform based on Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA).

Yet some remarkable results were booked last year by shifting the focus to physicians' organizations. In this way, Healtheon developed Internet-based services to manage eligibility inquiries, referrals, authorizations, electronic claims submission, provider directories and information reporting for Brown & Toland in Northern California. To further extend its connectivity to payers and physicians, Healtheon in May 1997 acquired ActaMed Corporation, one of the fastest growing electronic data interchange (EDI) services providers in the USA. In September 1998, Metis LLC was purchased because of its focus on Internet/intranet services for medical centres and Integrated Delivery Networks (IDN).

Healtheon has also signed an agreement with Hill Physicians Medical Group, an Independent Practice Association (IPA), to apply its ProviderLink Network for electronic claim submitting, either online or from within the physician's practice management system. The programme runs on virtually any desktop system capable of supporting a browser. Doctors will immediately obtain online feedback about the claim's status, possible errors that need correcting or additional information to be supplied. Before the claim actually enters the Hill Physicians' processing system, it thus can be resolved online. Manual adjudication no longer is necessary which reduces the time to payment.

At any time, the physician is able to enter the system for both online status updates and electronic remittance advice for adjudicated claims. To date, Healtheon provides administrative and clinical connectivity services to over 65.000 physicians and 450 payers while more than 5 million transactions are processed each month. Slowly but sure, the information society brings in new winds of change to fill the company sails of yet another of Jim Clark's writs. Do horizons really have a limit? Part of this article has been inspired on a story by Steve Hamm in the first week of October's edition of Business Week.


Leslie Versweyveld

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