Jonathan Baran considers himself a “serial healthcare IT entrepreneur” and his resume certainly backs that up.
Baran’s first Madison-based company, Healthfinch, was recently acquired in a $40 million deal with Salt Lake City-based Health Catalyst.
Founded in 2011, Healthfinch develops software to integrate data and analytics into electronic medical records to lighten the workload of health care professionals.
Under Baran’s leadership, Healthfinch was named a “Cool Vendor” by Gartner; “Top Emerging Vendor” by KLAS and one of Modern Healthcare’s “Best Places to Work.”
Baran’s new company, Carebot Health, designs bots to automate care delivery via a text message. Carebot is currently focused on allowing patients to schedule appointments for a flu shot via a text message. It plans to extend that technology to a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available.
A native of Cincinnati, Baran holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biomedical engineering from the University of Wisconsin - Madison.
Why Madison is perfect for healthcare IT?
There are lots of reasons including significant healthcare expertise in the hiring pool, the low cost of living, a deep pool of potential employees to grow a business and now a national reputation. Over the last 10 years, the narrative around Madison has really shifted. When I started Healthfinch and talked to investors from Silicon Valley, they would say "Why start a company in Madison?" That question would immediately be followed by "Would you consider relocating your company to San Francisco?"
But as healthcare IT has entered the mainstream and folks became more aware - particularly of Epic Systems - the conversation shifted. Now, when I say we're based in Madison, Wisconsin, the immediate response is "Everyone’s from Madison! It seems like that's the spot to be for health care IT."
What attracted you to the Madison region?
I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, but like many others was drawn to the University of Wisconsin and its outstanding engineering program. After finishing graduate school, it seemed like a natural fit to make Madison my home.
What are the biggest challenges in raising venture capital in this region for healthcare startups?
Because of Madison's increased reputation on the national stage, raising capital here isn’t much harder than raising capital elsewhere. Don't get me wrong, raising capital is always hard. But more venture capitalists are understanding that innovation is going to happen outside of Silicon Valley. With the right level of traction, any business will be appealing to venture capitalists. In addition, locally-based but nationally-recognized investors such as HealthX Ventures, gives Madison’s homegrown talent direct access to funding capital.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your company?
Well, starting a new company during a pandemic has sure been interesting. I think more change came to healthcare systems in one month than in the previous 10 years combined. This creates significant opportunity for companies like Carebot but also plenty of uncertainty.
What is your favorite thing to do in Madison?
I love biking through the UW Arboretum, enjoying the lakes and generally just spending time with my family. The quality of life here is outstanding.