There are probably hundreds of paths available to a blue-blood with the good fortune to be the first cousin of the president of the United States. In the case of Jonathan Bush, son of G.H.W. Bush's brother Jonathan Sr., though, his first choice was the dry-as-dust business of collecting money from intransigent health insurance companies. Today, Bush's company, AthenaHealth, serves as an intermediary for physicians who are sick and tired of the medical billing world. Athena's business model puts the company at risk unless it locks down its claims processing technology; the company charges a fee only if it manages to collect the physicians' dollars, a feat nearly impossible without an IT infrastructure that can turn on a dime. To keep its IT offerings up to date, Athena is reaching out to other technology experts, most recently by signing a sales partnership with Eclipsys. And to date, sales are doing well; Athena has already signed about 1 percent of the nation's doctors, not bad for a company facing giant competitors such as McKesson's Per-Se Technologies, Cerner and GE property IDX.
Still, despite its relatively modest $80 million in annual revenue, AthenaHealth is
probably getting more attention from investment bankers like Piper Jaffray than other companies with more momentum. It'll be interesting to see whether pure Harvard heritage and a decent head start will be enough to keep it going past the celebrity stage.
To learn more about AthenaHealth:
- read this article from CNN Money