Ricky Caplin, CEO of both The HCI Group and Healthcare Lifesciences at Tech Mahindra, was welcomed to speak with CHIME on their recent Digital Health Leaders Podcast. Ricky is the co-founder and partner in several other companies across many different industries including construction, engineering and professional staffing. He is truly a passionate person for healthcare and for making a difference across the entire globe.
In the episode with Russ Branzell, President and CEO of College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), Ricky shared how The HCI group started, transformed their business model and evolved over the years, as well as how the COVID crisis impacted him and the business. He shed light on how current events have served as an opportunity for The HCI Group to grow and help other organizations pivot in this new normal.
Tell us about the vision behind starting The HCI Group and where the company is today
It has definitely evolved. We started HCI at the height of the great recession, as we saw an opportunity to create a business at that time. I come from a family of medical professionals and we took a leap of faith during that time. Our vision has changed quite a bit from the two-person company we started in a town home in Atlanta to the larger company we are today. At that early point in time we just wanted to create a business, learn and hopefully do some good, but today our mission is much clearer: The HCI Group is your partner in advancing health and wellbeing through digital transformation and solutions.
Tell us more about the Tech Mahindra transition in 2017?
My brother-in-law and co-founder, Greg Jones and I had built The HCI Group to become one of the largest healthcare technology consultant firms, but we primarily doing strategy, implementation, training and support of electronic health records. We had about a thousand employees and a thousand contractors at that point in time. Greg was compelled to go into the ministry, so we opened ourselves up to strategic acquisition calls we were receiving at the time. One of those calls was Tech Mahindra, an international company who was interested in acquiring the company.
I knew little about the company at the time, but after meeting with CP Gurnani, CEO of Tech Mahindra, I quickly learnt that they were a fascinating organization and very entrepeneural for a company their size. They have over 117,000 employees and are part of the Mahindra group, which is $21 billion in revenue. They also impressed me with their capabilities in digital transformation and they agreed to give us a lot of scope to transform our business model. I didn’t necessarily have the vision of how The HCI Group was going to transpire over the next few years and it has definitely had its challenges, but they have been a phenomenal partner. As such, I am staying with them for the foreseeable future as their CEO of Health Lifeciences.
Often companies acquired by larger corporations lose their own vision and philosophies, and sometimes disappear entirely. That doesn’t seem to be the case for The HCI Group?
Honestly, it has been a team effort. One of the things that we did in this merger that may have been different to others, is that we aligned our interests and goals. Whether that be values and financial goals. We focused on the right partnership and who we could build something truly transformational with.
We’ve had our hurdles, but it’s amazing to have seen the resilience and innovation of people on our teams and how we’ve been able to shift our focus so effectively. We knew the EHR implementation market would always be around, but it wasn’t going to allow us to grow into the multi-billion dollar organization that we are becoming. We knew we needed to focus on digital transformation and how to help our clients innovate and evolve.
How did The HCI Group pivot during the COVID crisis we faced this year?
The first thing The HCI Group had to do for the health and wellbeing of our employees and partners, was to figure out how we were going to operate. We clearly couldn’t have people come into our office, so we discussed on the Friday when we heard the rumours that the state of Florida was going into lockdown, planned over the weekend, and implemented a fully virtual setup on the Monday. We were fortunate to have hired Ed Marx as our Chief Digital Officer, who shared some of the ways they had operated at Cleveland Clinic, which included daily team huddle meetings. The first thing we did was implement those daily virtual meetings and it truly shined a light on our organization, how we can operate more efficiently, more profitably and empower our employees. It really made us more transparent as an organization and we’re now operating better than ever.
From a strategic direction standpoint, there were also a few necessary changes in response to the pandemic. One large focus was how we were going to change our business model from doing implementations to creating managed services and digital transformation to help our customers decrease operating expenses. We’ve seen some large opportunities in these areas since the start of this global crisis, as people are looking for partners to help them manage and grow through the demand for virtual services and increased need to reduce budgets.
Listen to the full podcast recording here!