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My View on Point Lookout

by Jonathan Bush, President & CEO

As you may have heard, athenahealth recently announced the purchase of the Point Lookout resort on Maine’s Penobscot Bay, just down the road from our operations center in Belfast. I wrote a similar blog post for our athenahealth employee website that answers the critical questions, like whether or not it’s dog-friendly and if this means employees no longer have to stay in a nearby motel when they are working or training in Belfast.

But many of them, like probably many of you, are asking more broadly why a cloud-based company is buying more brick and mortar. This was the toughest one for me personally.

My call is that if we are to be a national health information backbone, we are going to also be a national convener of key thinkers in health information. The market for management of health information barely exists at all, but it is the single most important missing piece to more transparent and affordable health care in the US. It needs a fertile place for idea exchange (think Davos).  

I will try it out myself this September. I’ve been sending out invitations to entrepreneurs who have shown to be disrupters for good in health care. Each will bring one investor and one client…and we will engage in two days of radical honesty. Can’t wait to see what happens!

But some are also asking how are we going to fill all those cabins and meeting rooms. Well, that’s a good one too.

A few points:

  1. We have gained 20% MORE employees and almost 30% MORE customers EVERY year. So, even though we can’t predict what our future growth will be, we expect the demand for special athenahealth gatherings to go up and up.
  2. In particular, a huge chunk of our new athenaClinicals clients are coming out of a BURNED software-based EHR implementation. We have a pressing need to get key physician opinion leaders together for training (and therapy!) that we never had before. Our new CMIO, Todd Rothenhaus, MD, has his work cut out for him, since he is charged with training a new cadre of American physicians that documents their care in the cloud and MAKES money doing so.
  3. The guy who owned Point Lookout before us had to dump it in a fire sale. That said, usage has been going up for the last three years since he bought it. In fact, we think the place may get pretty close to break-even next year on just non-athenahealth use…too bad he had to sell, he almost made it through the tunnel.

Maine is a unique venue that few people in work/life get to visit…and it is stunningly memorable when they do. I think it may end up being a great edge for entry into the world of convening people. If not, and it’s a total failure (perish the thought), we can always sell it again. We already have three offers!

Jonathan Bush is the President and CEO of athenahealth.

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