TMCnet News

Office Ally adding workers
[January 12, 2010]

Office Ally adding workers

Jan 12, 2010 (The Columbian - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Brian O'Neill says his Vancouver company Office Ally will need more employees and larger quarters as it expands with new electronic medical services this year.

Called Patient Ally, the suite of medical software products includes an electronic billing service for doctors and a patient-to-physician virtual interface called e-visit. Blue Shield of California announced Monday that it has signed its 3.4 million members up for the service, which relies on medical diagnosing software that relays patient information and symptoms to the doctor. From there, physicians can treat and prescribe without office visits.

The service will not eliminate face-to-face appointments, said O'Neill, 48, chief executive officer and president of Office Ally LLC, which he founded in 1999 in Laguna Beach, Calif.

"But let's say you have strep throat. Now you can be treated over the Internet," saving doctor and patient time, and saving money for insurance firms, O'Neill said.

To meet client business growth, Office Ally expects to add about 150 employees in Vancouver in the next 12 months, said O'Neill, who moved the company to Clark County in 2009. Today, its east Vancouver call center employs 76 people in customer service and sales positions.

The company's work force also includes about 22 software developers in Irvine, Calif.

"Any new staff we add will be in Vancouver," said O'Neill, who expects to start hiring for the business expansion next month. "I anticipate 25 new employees to start," O'Neill said.

His company's core service is to act as an electronic clearinghouse in the expanse between doctor and insurance company.

"We receive the electronic claim, our software scrubs it for errors and then it goes to the insurance company," O'Neill said.

He said physicians sign up because it's convenient. A typical doctor's practice makes claims to more than 100 different insurers.

"Our service is free to the doctor," said O'Neill, a former IBM software engineer who developed and self-financed Office Ally for an undisclosed amount.

His company charges the insurance carrier, not the physician, for each claim, unlike similar electronic clearinghouse and billing firms that charge both, O'Neill said.

O'Neill said insurance companies will pay claims for e-visit's virtual services, unlike e-mail and phone calls to doctors, which are not billable.

He expects Office Ally -- which sees itself as an ally of businesses -- to generate $34 million in sales this year, up from $12 million in 2009.

The business could continue to grow exponentially based on two factors: the proposed national health care plan that would add more than 30 million more Americans to the health care rolls, and the fact that many states hope to eliminate paper insurance claims.

"Minnesota passed a law this year that it is illegal to send paper insurance claims in the state," said O'Neill, who expects other states to follow.

As for universal health care, government officials expect to outsource the claim services to a private insurer, O'Neill said.

He credits his company's small size for giving Office Ally a potential leg up over similar medical billing and clearinghouse companies. They include giant firms such as San Francisco-based McKesson Corp., which reported sales of $106.6 billion in 2009 and Nashville-based EMDeon, which produced $850 million in sales.

"All of our competitors are publicly traded, so they have shareholders to appease," O'Neill said. "We run a very efficient company." The company's move to Washington where there's no state income tax was a cost-cutting measure, according to O'Neill, who said the relocation would save thousands of dollars by protecting the earnings of his limited liability corporation from California's 10.3 percent state income tax.

To see more of The Columbian, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to Copyright (c) 2010, The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email [email protected], call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

[ Back To's Homepage ]