Top 100 2012: Changing the game
Some people see a harsh environment, like some insurmountable mountain terrain pockmarked with gashes capable of tumbling the strongest into the gorges below, and they find a way to string a line across the ravine.
The changing landscape of the technology industry and government work can be similar to the treachery of the mountains. Just when you think the next bend leads to prosperity, the ground falls away and you're left searching for a safety line.
But if prepared, a company can find that next handhold to continue its journey.
Cumberland County-based Target Systems has built a business in software, computer programming and information technology systems for government agencies and the military. But with the Department of Defense budget set for major cuts starting with about $50 billion in 2013 and $500 billion over 10 years, it needed another revenue stream.
"We're a small business, but we have people with a lot of skill," said Cathy Hunter, Target Systems' deputy for information technology and networking. "It just made sense to diversify."
Software and IT are growing fields in health care with new requirements for meaningful use of electronic medical records, or EMRs, in doctors' offices, hospitals, clinics and other medical practices. New health care regulations require medical facilities to transition to electronic records during the next several years with money to help medical practices defray the costs.
That means the market for such technology is growing quickly, companies said.
"With our knowledge and expertise with all things technology … our participation in that area was a perfect fit," Hunter said.
The Silver Spring Township company has developed software to help doctors meet EMR compliance and report that progress to the government. The software also is designed for ease of use by health care workers because, although there are lots of EMR and information exchange programs, many require the expertise of IT professionals, Hunter said.
"We're taking all the things we do really well and marrying them together to provide a service to the health care area," she said.
Target Systems partnered with Camp Hill-based Momentum Inc., a business consulting firm, to advise on the project and to walk medical practices through the system's implementation.
Such work is expanding the commercial business of technology companies and those that regularly deal mostly in government contracting, said Megan Bowman, a marketing specialist with Momentum.
"It's adding health care into the mix of all the IT organizations," she said.
The third partner in this project is Harrisburg-based WorkXpress, which offers cloud-based software development tools for businesses. Although the work is much similar to what they've done in the past, the game has changed with the work in health care IT.
"Health care providers are steadily realizing that one of the big hurdles between them and meaningful use is flexible, iterative technology solutions built around their workflows," said Ian Kanski, WorkXpress' business development manager. "Solutions here need to be able to tie together disparate systems and help the entire organization interact with whatever (electronic medical records) system they've purchased."
Making better technology easier to use is precisely where WorkXpress excels, he said.
"We've been partnering with companies in this manner for years, but have recently been making a much more focused effort to put our innovations into the hands of service providers in the health care field because we know that the need there for what we do is significant," he said.
Health care IT is unlikely to replace other areas of revenue in some tech and consulting firms, particularly large military contracts, but that doesn't mean it can't be an important and growing aspect to those businesses for years to come, Bowman said.
"It's a whole different ballgame," she said.