Ryan Howard - Disruptive Forces in Health IT

Who: Ryan Howard

Current position: Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Practice Fusion

Location: San Francisco

Fast facts: Howard founded Practice Fusion in 2005 at the age of 30 to produce an alternative to the EMR systems that scared small physician practices off with their five- and six-figure price tags. Practice Fusion's web-based EMR is free to physicians who agree to have advertising presented on the EMR screen, and there's an ad-free paid version available, too.

What makes him disruptive: After the product launched, Howard and Practice Fusion were the subject of quite a few unflattering news stories suggesting that the ad-based EMR would compromise patient privacy because the Google AdSense promotional messages are custom-generated based on keywords found in each patient's record. Howard could have slinked away and quietly changed his business model, but instead he went on a media and marketing offensive to set the record straight. Practice Fusion's customer base grew by 400 percent in 2009 and now claims more than 40,000 clinicians and office staff as users. And yes, Practice Fusion is in the process of getting its EMR certified for "meaningful use" so clients can earn federal stimulus funding starting next year.