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Easing the pain for medical industry

Sat., May 12, 2007

Running a chiropractic practice involves a lot of paperwork, from pulling patient records to billing.

A fledgling Spokane Valley company wants to change that with a new electronic system it designed for alternative medicine practitioners.

ProVolve Solutions Inc.’s “Modalus,” which local chiropractors will start testing next week, aims to streamline both the patient-care and business sides of practices, company executives said.

The two-year-old firm faces competition from established systems. But ProVolve CEO and co-founder Shad Wheeler bills Modalus as more comprehensive than rival products and as “extremely intuitive and easy” to use.

A Web-based system that took roughly eight months to create, Modalus allows office employees and chiropractors to schedule appointments, record diagnoses and bill insurance companies using a tablet computer. It automates many functions, prompting employees to complete tasks and notifying a supervisor if the work isn’t finished.

Switching to Modalus will allow Spokane Valley chiropractor James “Bo” Tucker to work from home, and it’s more user-friendly than his current system, he said. It also includes novel business functions that will “help bring more business sense” to his practice, said Tucker, who will test the system starting next week.

“They set it up so that everything can be tracked,” Tucker said. “What you do, how many people you see, what types of revenues are being captured. … It will actually speed up cash flow in the office.”

With 12 employees, ProVolve has needed to run lean, operating on funds from “angel investors” and from a contract to develop a system for a now-defunct, Texas-based medical company, said Wheeler, 32. The company has raised $745,000 to fund development, he said.

Sold as a subscription, Modalus might retail for between $600-650 a month, Wheeler said. The company would need about 125 accounts to break even, he said.

ProVolve hopes to have about 50 customers by the end of June, and 200 by the end of the year, Wheeler said. Long-term, the company wants to market Modalus nationwide and also tackle the primary-doctor market.

For much of the competing software, “guys have kind of developed something for a friend of the family or something in their spare time and then have decided to go market it,” Wheeler said.

Potential competitors include Florida-based EON Systems Inc.’s TPS 2000, a system designed for chiropractors, dentists and doctors. EON was founded in 1988, and its product, which has features similar to Modalus, is sold nationwide, said spokeswoman Jan Thomas.

Other Modalus features include a virtual “waiting area” that shows employees how long a patient has been in the lobby or a care room. For diagnoses, it offers interactive diagrams of the spine or the body that, when clicked, display drop-down menus of problem areas. When a user inputs information about an injury, such as the frequency and severity of pain, the affected body part glows red.

Data transmitted by the system is encrypted, and it resides on servers owned by Engine Yard of Sacramento, Wheeler said.

Finishing the product over the last couple months was stressful, but “people can start having a little more fun again” now that it’s being rolled out, Wheeler said.

The ProVolve office features whiteboards scribbled with notes and a bookshelf containing Spark Notes’ anatomy guide, “The Google Story” and “Guerilla Marketing.” Programmers arrived throughout the morning Friday, and one, dressed in shorts, ate a bowl of cereal before taking a seat at his computer.

Wheeler and co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Richard Nugen decided to target alternative medical offices after a system they hoped to sell to the auto industry didn’t pan out.

Tucker’s practice will begin adding patients to the system next week, and ProVolve has other local chiropractors lined up to test it.

The system will pay for itself, large through saved time, Tucker said.

“I’m actually really excited about it, and I think it will really prove to be a good system,” Tucker said. “I foresee that a lot of chiropractors across the country will be seeing the benefit of this as well.”


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