ERT’s recent hiring of a senior vice president of healthcare solutions is part of a companywide initiative to take ERT’s eClinical experience to an expanded market.
While ERT will continue to focus on its core capabilities providing technology solutions to the clinical trial industry, the new senior leader, John Sory, will look for opportunities where ERT can leverage its expertise into the larger healthcare market.
“We see a potential opportunity—and let me underline the word ‘potential’—in the healthcare market for doing the same type of thing [we do in clinical trials],” said Michael McKelvey, Ph.D., president and CEO of ERT. “The concept here would be to leverage all the investments that we have made both in our technology platforms and in our workflow platform.”
Sory will report directly to McKelvey. He spent 16 years working for Pfizer before joining ERT earlier this month. He was vice president and general manager of Pfizer Health Solutions, Pfizer’s health technology and services subsidiary, for seven years. He has experience in both the clinical trial industry and in other areas of healthcare, such as electronic medical records and disease management, where ERT may want to expand.
“While we feel that we could take what we do today into the healthcare area, the healthcare area has got other issues in terms of payers and economics models and the like,” McKelvey said. “We thought it was important to hire someone who’s a fairly senior person to come in and look for what those opportunities are—really understanding the economics of healthcare—and look for those opportunities where we can take what we do today into a variety of different markets whether it be rural health or community health or hospitals or wherever.”
The potential “magnitude of the opportunity” warranted its own senior-level position, McKelvey said, but he acknowledged that ERT’s plans for rolling out its services to the larger healthcare market are still in their infancy.
“We’re not trying to do something next week or next quarter. This is something that’s really a longer-term opportunity, and we want to do it right,” he said.
In addition to looking for growth opportunities in other areas of healthcare, Sory will explore acquisition and merger opportunities in clinical research and in the larger healthcare market. McKelvey said it’s not yet clear whether ERT will expand its services organically or through partnerships.
While ERT can’t talk about specific acquisition possibilities, the hiring of a person devoted to this area seems to hint that inorganic growth will be an area of high focus for the company in 2010.
“We’ve talked about this for the last year or two in presentations that we have given to investors. We see two potential areas for expansion. One is what we call ancillary technology vendors surrounding clinical trials—other vendors that do a similar thing to what we do. The second, which is the newer one, is to be able to take those capabilities into the healthcare market. We felt by coalescing those activities around one individual that would allow us to focus on it … We really wanted someone to totally focus on those opportunities,” McKelvey said.