“All of us think better than any one of us.”
EM: Let’s start with your background. You have twenty years working in the federal sector.
Ron Sullivan: I am just one of the old guys because I had twenty years in the military, about ten of which I worked in the Medical IT arena back in the days with things like CHCS and DHCP. When I retired out of the military, I went to work for companies like SAIC and PeopleSoft for several years before InterSystems, where I have been in the last fifteen. I’ve spent a lot of time in this particular market space trying to help government and the veteran community find answers to how to improve healthcare through the use of IT.
Can you tell us what InterSystems does? You are mainly focused on healthcare and IT?
Sullivan: InterSystems provides a post-relational data repository and building tools for a core product that is called Caché. In addition over the course of the last seven years, we have been building an additional tool that sits on top of that called HealthShare, which is an interoperability platform through which people can exchange data between and amongst a variety of systems whether the health system or a financial-to-health or health-to-financial system. Those two things have been our primary focus particularly in the area of public sector. We can provide solutions as we package them for particular programs or in some cases, we work with the customer so that they build around solutions on top of Cache, to address some unique programs that they have. In the healthcare arena we are getting away from that and packaged solutions are more in vogue and in need today. We also service the financial community and Wall Street. They want to build their own solutions and we can accommodate that. That is a niche that is not a majority of what InterSystems does.
In what agencies and web applications do you think InterSystems has had the greatest successes?
Sullivan: We have been privileged to be the foundational platform for both VA and Indian Health. Both of their electronic health records sit on Cache and all the clinical users use that to access information. In DoD, their health care system sits on Cache repository and tool set, and does predominantly the ancillary health care which includes pharmacy, lab, radiology, etc. That has been our core. We have been moving into this world of interoperability that has become very necessary to all of IT, particularly healthcare where you are drawing information from many varied systems to try to bring data to either clinical data to a doctor so that they can see all of the patient’s clinical data when they are visiting with that patient, or claims data on clinical visits that have taken place maybe outside the agency or federal government, or the commercial provider and they are getting to ready to pay those claims. That has been our evolution and we have been expanding the tools to bring data faster and easier to the user in the location in which it is needed.
Where do you see InterSystems delivering the most value to the public sector?
Sullivan: We have worked with the public sector in essentially meeting the needs that they felt most urgent at that time as well as the technology has presented itself allows them to ride at the top of the technology curve at a time. In the area of VA, Indian Health and DoD, we’ve developed a platform that created a tool to build applications on. That tool was also a data repository and source of information that was reliable and we would stand behind and was able to work at a pace that kept up with the constant demands for more data, more speed, and quicker response over time. We visited with one of the CIOs of these agencies a few years ago with my CEO. His comment to us was that “we don’t get to see you all very much.” The reason is I tend to see those vendors in which we are having some problems with what they are providing us with. Not getting to see you is not a bad thing; it is more of a statement of your reliability and that is something we believe in heavily as well as customer response.
Do you have a message for your competitors or collaborators?
Sullivan: In today’s environment everyone operates and needs to operate in a collaboration or cooperation kind of modality. There are times that we will compete with other people but in the real sense we should all be focused on the customer’s needs and requirements and how we can bring our solution to that. There is an old adage that says, “All of us think better than anyone of us.” Competition also makes us work harder. It also brings out the best in all of us and gets us better answers for better systems development with our federal and public health customers. It is an exciting time to be in IT.