Former Allscripts CEO starts new chapter

Former executives Glen Tullman and Lee Shapiro set their sights on building new company
By Bernie Monegain
03:01 PM
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After 15 years at the helm of Allscripts, the EHR vendor he helped steer through years of growth and change, Glen Tullman is poised to join the ranks of serial entrepreneurs. He and Allscripts colleague Lee Shapiro, who served as president, have set their sights on starting a new company – or maybe multiple companies – in the mobile healthcare arena.

"We’re looking at what’s next – what’s coming in healthcare, and we have some ideas on where we think we’re going," Tullman told Healthcare IT News.

"What we’re going to do," he said, "is focus on where we think the puck is going to be, not on where it is today. So what are the big problems in healthcare? Chronic disease management is one area that’s of great interest to us. How you get broader distribution of apps, that’s another area of interest to us. How you better manage risk, that of interest to us."

As he usually does, Tullman attended the HIMSS Annual Conference and Exhibition, but the experience was different for him this year.

"It’s the first time in 15 years that I really got a chance to walk the floor," he said. "Most of the time I was secluded, selling, and this time I was actually out shopping."

[See also: Why haven't EHRs made us healthier?.]

He and Shapiro are shopping for the next big thing in healthcare, for companies to buy, while also thinking of companies to start from scratch. They are refining their plans and expect to make an announcement no later than the fall of 2013 – likely sooner, Tullman said. "We will in fact be in the healthcare space. We won’t be competitive to Allscripts. So you don't have to worry about a Glen and Lee’s new fabulous electronic health record coming out.”

Tullman resigned from Allscripts Dec. 20, 2012 after months of turmoil within the company, with stock prices falling and speculation about the sale of the company. The division among board members became public on April 25, 2012, when the board fired its chairman and three board members quit in protest. Paul Black, former COO at Cerner, and an Allscripts board member, took the reins.

[See also: Tullman out at Allscripts, Black in.]

Today, Tullman speaks positively of the company he helped build.

"Allscripts is a great company," he said. "When we joined the company it was $30 million in revenue, losing $14 million and had about 100 employees. When we left, it was $1.4 billion, 7,000 employees, making upwards of $200 million. So, we had a great run there. Most important, I think we made a difference in healthcare, and we made a difference in may of the communities we operated in."

"We knew when we started Allscripts with electronic prescribing that we were saving lives, and we could calculate for physicians who were using electronic prescribing, there were less errors and less deaths than for those who did not," Tullman said.

When Allscripts moved to electronic health records, that too made a difference, he said, because having information readily available helped physicians make better decisions, which in turn benefitted the patient.

"Now I think this is an opportunity to do that again and have even more impact on the health of the country – and hopefully in a broader sense on many other countries that are having similar challenges," Tullman said.

Today’s electronic health records are data retrieval tools, but that’s beginning to change. They will become much more agile, he predicts, and will be able in the future to provide information like a trader gets from Bloomberg, "which is real information to make better decisions." As he sees it, the industry's commitment to interoperability will make a big difference to establishing new healthcare models.

[See also: Six HIT heavy-hitters announce interoperability organization.]

"And as that starts to come, your requirement when you go to see a physician," he said, "is going to be, ‘What’s the latest on my condition? What are the latest medications? What are the latest treatments? How successful are they?' You’re going to go online to see who the best physicians are who have the best results in treating your condition. We’re going to manage people very differently.

“So that’s the future that’s coming. A lot my time now is spent talking with companies that will allow us to build what’s next in healthcare.”

"We’re very active," he said. "We’re meeting with a lot of folks, and we’re in the exploration stage. I think clearly it's going to involve devices. Clearly, it’s going to involve use of the cloud. The best way people can interact with technology is the cloud. What we want to do is make it easier for physicians to connect with information, for patients to connect with information and for physicians and patients to connect with each other. We think that is the next stage.”

What might they name their new venture?

"I'd like to first find what we’re going to do to change the world," Tullman said. "Then we’ll figure out what to call it."