PhillyDeals: Investors pick Horsham as medical tech HQ

Symphony Health Solutions employs more than 500 people, nearly half in the Philadelphia area.
Symphony Health Solutions employs more than 500 people, nearly half in the Philadelphia area.
Posted: November 26, 2012

A Silicon Valley investment group buying up data firms across the United States has found so many in the Philadelphia area - one of the nation's oldest medical centers, and a significant information technology hub - that it has combined several into a new company, Symphony Health Solutions, which it hopes to build into a national medical-software power based in Horsham.

"We have the ambition of building a great company. We are growing, and we are hiring," J.T. Treadwell, managing director at Symphony Technology Group in Palo Alto, Calif., the new company's owner, told me.

Symphony Health employs more than 500, nearly half in the Philadelphia area, and will hire "dozens or scores" more as it expands engineering, sales, and services over the next couple of years, Treadwell said.

Symphony Technology's founder, Romesh Wadhwani, sold his business-software firm, Aspect Development, to a predecessor of JDA Software Group Inc. for around $9 billion in March 2000, at the top of the Internet bubble. Wadhwani's investment firm and its clients now control more than a dozen specialty software companies, including CoreOne financial software, Shopzilla retail data software, and SymphonyIRI, a Nielsen Co. competitor. "We've never lost money on an investment," Treadwell said.

The group had held back on health care, until recently. "It's an intimidating space," Treadwell said. "It has a reputation for being slow-moving, and we've been cautious."

But since Congress passed the Affordable Care Act - "Obamacare" - in 2010, the health-data industry "is changing pretty fast, and the commercial models in life sciences are starting to change with it," Treadwell said.

The federal law includes incentives that are supposed to reward doctors, hospitals, and drugmakers for tracking and sharing health-care cost, insurance, delivery, and outcome data. "We think it's going to be a really interesting decade in health care. We want to be part of it," Treadwell said.

In April 2011, Symphony Technology bought a majority share of ImpactRx, a Merck-backed, Mount Laurel firm that collected data on physician prescription patterns. That September, ImpactRx, in turn, bought TargetRx of Horsham, which had built its own proprietary database of what it called "physician attitudes and behaviors" on drug prescriptions, and put ImpactRx boss Gregory Ellis in charge of the combination.

In March 2012, the group acquired AlphaDetail, based in San Mateo, Calif., and Horsham. It was a market-research firm focused on drug-sales analysis. Rishi Varma was named executive vice president.

In May, Symphony bought Source Healthcare Analytics L.L.C., which focused on physician-level targeting for drugmakers, from global publishing giant Wolters Kluwer. Source Health, based in Phoenix, had an office in Yardley. "They buy market data and patient data, on an anonymous basis, in the U.S. market," Treadwell said. "It's terrific data on sell-through of biopharma, medical scrips, and longitudinal patient-claim records."

The group has been poaching local tech company bosses. In June, Symphony Healthcare named William Nelligan, an executive at IMS Health's U.S. division in Plymouth Meeting, as chief executive. Last month, Symphony hired IMS's Don Otterbein as head of marketing, and Wayne's SunGard Financial Systems executive Jeff Cottle to run human resources.

And now, Treadwell told me, "We are taking a breather." Once the group is integrated and the sales and engineering forces built up, "We could be talking about many hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue and profitability," he said.


Contact Joseph N. DiStefano at 215-854-5194, JoeD@phillynews.com, or follow @PhillyJoeD on Twitter.

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