(This article has been updated with a correction.)
Losing revenue after failing to meet Medicare's performance standards is a painful prospect for hospitals. But for CipherHealth, it's a growth opportunity.
The New York-based company is among a flood of venture-backed digital health start-ups developing software tools and related services to help hospitals wring waste from operations, improve patient satisfaction and capitalize on their investment in federally subsidized health information technology.
CipherHealth, launched in 2009 by an angel investor and four employees, began life as a start-up incubator. It has since morphed into a rapidly growing software developer with 90 employees and four products that help nurses improve patient satisfaction and engagement.
Its software aids nurses during hospital rounds and enables follow-up after patients leave the hospital. Sentara Healthcare, Norfolk, Va., and OSF HealthCare, Peoria, Ill., are among the clients using its software to track and respond to patient needs. Revenue has doubled each year since CipherHealth signed its first three hospital clients in 2010.
The playful atmosphere at the firm's Midtown Manhattan offices seems far removed from the pressure of that kind of explosive growth. During a tour, two employees sat in a ball pit with laptops. Harry Potter posters hung from a wall. But that relaxed arrangement has fostered a highly responsive development team, which has emerged as the company's best shot at long-term viability, investors and customers say.