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IHCS enjoying healthy success

Someone forgot to tell Ridgeland-based Integrated Health Care Solutions (IHCS) that it is a start-up company. The enterprise is just wrapping up its first year in business, and the only challenge it currently faces is finding enough workers to handle the demand.

The payroll has increased almost 10-fold — and IHCS is still hiring. Already needing more space, the company is preparing to move into a new, large headquarters under construction in Madison. It currently counts customers throughout Mississippi well as clients in Alabama and Florida, and more is anticipated.

According to CEO and co-founder Duke Willingham, he and his team are not surprised by the company’s success. They knew they had a winner out of the gate.

“We expected to do well,” Willingham said. “We are very pleased with where we are.”

Filling a niche

The IHCS story begins nearly 30 years ago with Willingham. A graduate of Delta State University, Willingham has spent the last 28 years in the IT industry, including a stint at St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson, where he got in on the ground floor of automated processes and systems.

Willingham went on to a student loan company, where he led its automation efforts. But an experience at St. Dominic stuck with him.

“Before I left St. Dominic, I had a doctor tell me that what he needed was a program that would take all of the hospital’s systems, tie them all together, and offer all of it on one desktop,” Willingham said.

After the student loan venture, Willingham set out to form a software company that would integrate all of the systems physicians utilize. (The IHCS founders and executive management team include Willingham, COO Jody Harbour, CIO Michael Smith and CTO Brian McFarland.) The result was a software package called PrognoSYS, designed for small hospitals and physician clinics.

There were already such systems available. According to the company, what set IHCS’ product apart was its price — approximately half that offered by other companies, making it attractive for smaller and/or rural practices — and local, responsive service.

IHCS says PrognoSYS provides reduced costs, increases efficiency and improves patient care. The package found customers immediately. Clinics in Canton, Carthage, Ruleville and Jackson are utilizing the system as well as two clinics in Huntsville, Ala., and one in Clearview, Fla.

Vibba Vig, M.D., with Sunshine Medical Clinics, a PrognoSys client, says, “Since the implementation of the PrognoSYS system at the Sunshine Medical Clinics in Mississippi (Carthage and Canton), I can now access my patient records from either clinic or the hospital, which is a big advantage for my staff and my patients. And, with over 10,000 patients between the two clinics, it helps me run my office more efficiently.”

With the success of PrognoSYS, IHCS developed and launched DiagnoSYS, designed for mental health practices. Flexible enough to fit into an existing workflow, DiagnoSYS incorporates a full-featured business process management engine that allows for the streamlining complex, mission-critical operations while monitoring organizational performance and process effectiveness.

DiagnoSYS, too, has found a market. Mental health concerns in Hattiesburg, Meridian, Greenwood and McComb are utilizing the system.

Home work

When IHCS launched in mid-2007, it did so with seven employees. By May 2008, the payroll had grown to more than 30 workers. The company is currently hiring software developers and sales and marketing professionals, and IHCS is projecting more than 75 workers will be on board by the end of the year.

IHCS has a number of goals and missions that transcend sales and market share. All of the principals are native Mississippians, and the company is determined to offer its high-paying positions to Mississippi workers. It sees a higher ideal of helping boost the state’s workforce and economy.

Willingham says finding enough qualified workers has been a challenge. Beyond salaries, to make IHCS more attractive to prospective employees the company offers its tech force a lot of latitude. A visitor may find IHCS’ tech folks working off of a ping pong table, which is often cleared for play. Large screens offer video games, and a barbecue grill is outside if workers want to do a little grilling at work.

Willingham says this kind of loose environment is essential to keeping the generally young, creative-minded employees satisfied, and in return the company gets a dedicated workforce. The staff routinely works long hours, sometimes staying 24 hours and sleeping at the office. The company is pleased with its investment in its workers, and is in the process of making an even larger commitment to its people.

IHCS is currently occupying office space on Avignon Drive in Ridgeland, and operations are spread between two facilities that are across the street from each other. Space is at a premium.

That will soon change. On June 24, IHCS will host a groundbreaking ceremony for its new headquarters on Homestead Drive in Madison. The new facility will encompass approximately 10,000 square feet, and, once again with its workers in mind, it will offer such amenities as an exercise room, showers and lounge. The new facility, helped along by Gulf Opportunity Zone Act benefits, is expected to be completed in September.

Willingham says IHCS has just begun to scratch the surface of its potential. He says prospective markets include nursing homes and assisted living facilities. And, while he says IHCS could “easily” branch out beyond Mississippi, he and his team remain committed to their home state, and there is plenty of work here to keep the company busy for years to come.

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at wally.northway@msbusiness.com.


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