19 – James Scollay, Genie
James Scollay is CEO of clinical and practice management software vendor Genie Solutions.
He’s the former General Manager of MYOB, and was originally the executive chair of Genie before moving into the full time CEO gig early last year.
Genie has earned tremendous respect and trust from its customer base, with over 20 years in market as a software solution for Doctors. More recently James has been focused on bringing the company into a new era of industry collaboration and technological advancements, enabling practices around Australia deliver a better patient experience and drive real practice efficiency.
In this episode James and Pete chat about the new Gentu cloud platform and it’s rapid growth (400% in the last quarter!) and how more practices are adopting Cloud over Desktop solutions. ☁️
They also talk about Private Equity funding and how it’s helped take the company from a family run business to a business with double the staff with much more focus on Development and User Experience. 📈
Listen in to also learn about Genie’s massive investment on “collaboration” using the FHIR standards and their partnership with Movember. 🤝
[00:00:48] James how you doing
[00:00:49] James: doing great. Thanks for having me along.
[00:00:50] Pete: Thanks for coming in
[00:00:52] James: beautiful day in Sydney to be stuck inside the studio,
[00:00:53] Pete: How Good is it, yeah yeah.
[00:00:55] Pete: but I guess like with podcasts it could be anywhere but and anyone could be listening and it’s [00:01:00] raining outside speaking of raining you were you were so your Genies head office is in Brisbane you’re in Sydney a lot, but you’re also a [00:01:11] originally a New Zealander is that
[00:01:15] James: that’s right.
[00:01:14] Pete: Yeah. Okay. Okay.
[00:01:15] James: Proud kiwi still support the All Blacks.
[00:01:17] Pete: Okay, Yeah.
[00:01:18] James:15 years here.
[00:01:19] Pete: I didn’t know that. Okay. Well might be a short. No. No, – no no awesome awesome. That’s good. So Genie lots to talk about let’s let’s let’s get stuck into it for those that might not be in the know tell us a bit more about Genie and what you guys do.
[00:01:34] James: So we’re the market leader for Practice Management systems for Specialists and we include by the way GP’s is as a specialty there. So we’ve got more than 4,000 practices using Genie to run their practice and that means they’re using it to do all their practice management in terms of appointment booking, billing and also managing the clinical workflows.
[00:01:57] So we think that’s around 65% of all private practices in Australia that are using Genie.
[00:02:02] Pete: Yeah, Wow. Okay first so then because I was always looking around. I think you had over. 20,000 licenses or something back in 2018. What’s the count now? who have you got and who are the customers and how many are there and what…
[00:02:15] James: yeah.
[00:02:15] So look, we’ve got the top 10 Specialties make up about 50% of our client base. Okay, we celebrated our 4,000th practice in October last year, which was a endocrinologist on the on the Sunshine Coast.
[00:02:29] Pete: Oh right? and you know that, you know the 4,000th.
[00:02:30] James: Yeah, we’ve headed down to her office. She took our, our new cloud Gentu product and so we really celebrated that and look no such sounds have been growing pretty rapidly since then who are our customers?
[00:02:41] They’re still across Fifty something different different Specialties. They are have been we’ve been in business for 20 years so most them are on the desktop, but more recently more of our new practices are actually taking cloud. In the last quarter we’ve seen a 400 percent growth in in Cloud sales compared [00:03:00] to the same quarter last year.
[00:03:01] And for the first time we’re seeing more new practices take our Gentu Cloud solution than desktop.
[00:03:07] Pete: Yeah. Okay
[00:03:07] James: Which is really exciting.
[00:03:08] Pete: Yeah, right
[00:03:09] Pete: because from I haven’t followed it too much, but it. So Gentu those you’ve been working on it for a while, but it sounds like more recently. It’s starting to really get some traction.
[00:03:21] James: It really is. Yeah. So look, we we I guess. When the company changed ownership is a couple of years ago. I got involved in reviewing strategy and seemed to me that the market would move to the cloud. There’s an enormous benefit for our customers and their patients and that shift to the cloud and so but we felt like we were behind and probably falling behind so we quadrupled our investment in cloud and with with and got 50 50 people in development team focused on cloud and that’s
[00:03:54] really making a difference. So you know we’ve invested I think well and you know really invested in getting the user
[00:04:00] experience, right and the customers who are moving on to it are loving it and that’s you know, really generating great growth.
[00:04:06] Pete: Yeah, that’s awesome. your experience. You’ve got a lot of experience broadly, but your experience isn’t so much in the health space if I’ve read it correctly what what perspective do you bring to the company as a [00:04:20] I guess you’ve been CEO for quite a while now, but still coming coming with fresh eyes into the organization. How how is Health different to to other Industries? You’ve been involved in or how is it say?
[00:04:33] James: Look, it’s interesting. So I’ve come from the accounting software industry where we’re running running MYOB small business business where their companies just been that industry in facts just been through a massive transformation from desktop to to cloud and to platforms.
[00:04:49] And so that a lot of that’s very familiar looking at the landscape. Bit behind where that market is but you know a similar set of opportunities and challenges facing us from a [00:05:00] from a technology point of view from a cultural point of view in terms of running the business so lot a lot that’s very familiar to me and some real differences.
[00:05:09] I mean clearly we’re dealing with with people’s health and therefore, you know lives are at stake so that that makes a that that brings an added edge to it. But look I’m loving it because there is those similar opportunities. If I look back at the last decade in accounting software, you know the industries just exploded on the back of cloud on the back of moving to platforms.
[00:05:34] It’s been huge value creation for for the shareholders in that in that in that industry, but also for the customers, you know, small businesses are so much better served than they were 10 years ago because of that shift. I think there’s a similar opportunity here and given our customers are medical professionals as we deliver much more value to them and that shifted platform Cloud platforms.
[00:05:57] We’ve got an opportunity to really and [00:06:00] demonstrably improve patient outcomes across Australia.
[00:06:04] Pete: [00:06:04] What’s your take got I’m just thinking about that cloud in Australia like Cloud practice Management Systems in Australia and say thinking about last five something years, you know, there’s there’s brand new guys that have built stuff from scratch and there’s there’s the the well-established practice management systems of going from, you know, server base to building a Cloud solution.
[00:06:26] I sometimes feel like everyone’s on a Level Playing Field because ye you got to build the whole thing from scratch regardless of you know, how much experience you’ve got in there in the space how like so you’ve still got to build a cloud product from scratch how different is Gentu from the the the original Genie like [00:06:46] Solution how much can can you leverage off the old kind of tech? I’m going to use the term old Tech to build the new tech and yeah, how do you bring that…
[00:06:55] James: [00:06:55] Look it It’s a great question. I think most desktop [00:07:00] companies who moved to the cloud make the mistake of trying to lift and shift and just they see it as a technology problem and it kind. The technology shift is necessary but not sufficient.
[00:07:10] Yeah. So really is about reimagining what’s possible in the cloud and that’s what we’ve done with Gentu. So we’ve really taken it for a fresh sheet of paper and and really reimagine what practice management solution systems can be in the cloud. Having said that we’ve got you know two decades of experience and thousands of customers with all of inside We’ve got a lot of knowledge.
[00:07:31] We know what customers want. We know what they using what they’re not using what works for them. So, you know, we are we’re optimizing for workflow efficiency, and we’re over-investing in design in ux in that shift and it really is you know, you see the differences in the workflows that we’re bringing and so I think our customers would find the cloud experience very familiar.
[00:07:55] But you know completely reimagined at the same time it
[00:07:58] Pete: [00:07:58] Yeah cool interesting. [00:08:00] So Genie was was a almost like a family-run company for a very long time if I’ve got that right?
[00:08:09] James: Yeah.
[00:08:09] Pete:Okay now now it’s a very. Very different company backed by by PE by private equity and that’s obviously a very huge cultural shift talk me through that process because you’ve been at the forefront of that Journey.
[00:08:22] So how’s that kind of gone?
[00:08:23] James: [00:08:23] Yeah look at it is a big change, but I think in these Transformations, it’s more about what doesn’t change than what changes that’s important. So for us the first thing to in acquiring Genie was, and when I say acquire you know, the founding family are still shareholders Paul Carr who found the business still sits in a board and that, you know having that we’ve got great relationship with with him and he still we still go to him and get a history file and what’s happened in the past.
[00:08:53] So that’s been really really helpful and it’s been really important for our customers for the business and for the for the [00:09:00] team to get that continuity. But the first thing to really understands look what’s the secret sauce you know genie didn’t get to be an absolute market leader by mistake. And so why why is that?
[00:09:09] What’s that secret sauce and the secret sauce for Genie’s really clear, you know, it’s really huge focus on the customers and that comes through in a product that’s really designed to make meet specific specialist requirements and really going through each specialty and understanding what they need and delivering for them and and deliver a great suport really over-investing in support compared to our competitors and be just being there for our customers to help them help them manage their practice and that of course has to be underpinned by great people.
[00:09:41] So we’ve really taken that secret sauce and look at look to not screw it up firstly and then you really look to look to how we can accelerate around that. Yeah, so we’ve been doubled. As the business since since buying the business and you know, we’ve really looked to put in a platform for [00:10:00] for growth and and and for the for the for the future and how that’s been building out a new executive team double the size of the company investing a lot in product move to new offices.
[00:10:11] Pete: [00:10:11] Yeah I was going to say that I came to your office. I don’t know a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know why but I was expecting something in like a stuffy office block. I don’t know I had this bad conception that was about like a wrong idea Pete but. It’s a very funky new office and you’ve got your values on the walls and you got some pretty happy people walking around it’s pretty buzzing
[00:10:30] James: [00:10:30] Yeah it really is look, you know, we we’re super focused on culture.
[00:10:35] Pete: [00:10:35] Yeah that came across a lot.
[00:10:36] James: [00:10:36] Yeah. We just, you know, I think out there at an executive level we spend more time talking about culture than we do about revenue and sales and that that works and so, you know at its heart it means that we don’t think we can be successful on any other metric if Employee Engagement is not going well
[00:10:52] So that’s the. The first thing we focus on and and you know, we’ve really put a lot of investment into the team. We are super [00:11:00] focused on learning development. We’ve just just announced to our team that we putting every single person in the entire company through a formal design thinking program this year and that’s yeah that’s real real investment and hopefully hopefully that comes through and it sounds like you saw it. [00:11:15] Pete: [00:11:15] Yeah, I saw it, it looked really good. You said you got 50 devs or something. Now just on Gentu
[00:11:19] James: [00:11:19] so here. We’re a hundred and fifty people now and half of that’s on the product side.
[00:11:25] Pete: [00:11:25] So just moving on collaboration in the health Tech space. I mean that’s a topic that we’ve all done a lot of talking about but we’ve also talked about the fact that we all need to start doing something
[00:11:41] So thinking about Genie specifically, is there anything tangible you guys are doing to. Improve collaboration and health care
[00:11:48] James: [00:11:48] yeah, absolutely. First of all, we see the opportunity for us as building a platform of scale and that that implies requires [00:12:00] as based on collaboration. So we’re investing
[00:12:04] Literally millions upon millions of dollars in collaboration right now. What does that look like? So it looks like first of all and we’ve really invested in FHIR. So we’ve made a strategic commitment to the FHIR standard and I we have with. Standards going to be required for collaboration. We think that FHIR going to it has emerged the winner
[00:12:25] The thing that really convinced me apart from a couple of my meetings with with Grahame Grieve. Yeah was the Apple decision to back FHIR a couple years ago and you’ve got to believe that the big Tech guys don’t need to get behind this. It’s inevitable and I think the companies like us can help help accelerate that so we’ve gone down that path
[00:12:44] We’re investing and building an open platform. With cloud and Cloud Integrations, and that’s that’s means that we’ll be able to interconnect and interoperate much better than than we have in the past and I think that will Foster Innovation [00:13:00] through new exciting players in the market helping them to integrate to our systems and get get to Market
[00:13:07] You know were also looking into new business models. So for example, we’ve got ongoing conversations with private hospitals. For example that most of these Specialists use Genie and there’s very little ink into operability between those systems and you know, there’s a lot that’s a on the surface and obvious thing to obvious thing to fix but you go and talk to our customers and say hey, we’ve got x amount to spend on development and improving your software this year
[00:13:36] How much of that should we spend on solving that problem and they say none we’ve got other things we’d like you to be doing that’s not a drive value for us. So we’re thinking about new business models that really turns that Private Hospital in to our client and we say look, you know, we will come and build a great integration great work flow for your VMO’s
[00:13:55] It’ll drive a huge productivity. Benefit for [00:14:00] you. It’ll drive some better customer experience better VMO experience and we want to share in the in the in those benefits and that that’s a that makes them our customer changes the Paradigm and we call that that business model interoperability as a service and it’s we’re out talking to people now and it’s getting great traction and we’re super excited about it
[00:14:20] That’s gonna make a big difference
[00:14:22] Pete: [00:14:22] very cool. Very cool. So I was reading before that that Australia. Australia was recently ranked by below average for the use of digital in a clinical setting. I think we were below the international average for a percentage of healthcare providers that were using technology or mobile app’s
[00:14:43] So I think something like 77% of professionals here use Tech compared to like 94% in China and a bunch of other countries in your perspective then what why. Why aren’t Australian doctors adopting Tech like other parts of the world do you think?
[00:15:00] [00:15:00] James: [00:15:00] look, He is that they’re really interesting statistics and I’m just not surprised
[00:15:05] They we talked about doctors. We’ve done really detailed surveys with our customers and they want to use technology there’s there’s they want to use technology that’s going to drive real outcomes for their patients and improve efficiency in there and their practice is going to give give them more tools and that that they either
[00:15:25] The vast majority want to use new technology want to embrace it and there’s a bunch that want to know more about to enable them to make those decisions and its really us as an industry that’s living them down. I think you know, I look at this industry coming into it and I go there’s some some pretty big problems here, you know, first of all, it’s a very disconnected ecosystem
[00:15:45] I’ve got a client who. Who is great client and users really passionate about the use of technology in their practice? And he showed me this wonderful slide, which is a hand drawing of him of his technology [00:16:00] ecosystem in his practice and it’s completely disconnected solution and the title is my solution three years ago
[00:16:07] And he says, you know, click down my solution now and the gag is it’s exactly the same, you know change and that’s the problem. Right? We just you know, that’s a disconnected ecosystem. And that’s that’s making it hard to use technology to you know, our industry is a UX crime scene. It’s a the user experienced haven’t invested in user experience the way other Industries have
[00:16:30] Software’s hard to use the user the usability just isn’t and the utility isn’t there and when we’re adding more technology into a practice often that’s adding to the workload not detracting from it and that’s got to change and we really have to change that in the third problem is it’s a very fragmented ecosystem, you know, sorry very fragmented market
[00:16:53] So we think this 270 different technology providers trying to sell to the practices. [00:17:00] And most of them aren’t doing a great job. They are subscale college businesses, you know, not not delivering great Solutions not investing property it properly in technology and that’s a problem. So it’s problem for the for the good ones and there are some fantastic providers out there, but it’s difficult for them to get break
[00:17:19] To get cut through and it’s a problem for our customers because they get this there’s all this noise and it’s very hard for them to filter through. So yeah, there’s quite big problems that are holding us back.
[00:17:33] Pete: [00:17:33] Yeah, I think as well as you were saying that I kind of had that realization that would probably a big part of it too is all about trust in the
[00:17:42] In the well, whether it’s the process but it’s all about data privacy and security as well. So I think that you know, clinicians and even patients to an extent that it depends on how how hard, you know, the industry gets beaten up in the media. But but if the perception is that. [00:18:00] There’s not an element of trust they can provide to to software to you know, be custodian’s is further information
[00:18:08] Then they’re going to stick with their fax machine in manila folders, I guess. So
[00:18:11] James: [00:18:11] Look kind of you know, I think silly when we ask our customers about. The cloud Security’s on their mind, but you know as a technologist, I would say the problems of security the problems of privacy in the cloud. are solved
[00:18:27] So I’m glad that our customers take this issue seriously and ask the tough questions because they should but the answers are there and so the I don’t see that is a true barrier to shifting to the cloud, to shifting to new technology. In fact, I see a whilst a look around and see some real problems as I talked about in the industry that’s holding back up take When I Look To The Future and and the not too distant future
[00:18:51] So the next five years, you know, we see some some really really exciting things happen happening and I’d say there’s five big things that are going to happen that’s going to [00:19:00] transform things in the first thing I think cloud is the future, you know, the next five years. We’re going to see significant migration to the cloud and use of cloud Technologies
[00:19:09] So even if customers aren’t moving completely to the cloud, they’ll be using Cloud Technologies as part of their overall solution that shift to the cloud is going to really Drive connection to the patients and it’s going to automate it’s going to help our practices automate their patient journey, and then once we’ve got both practitioners and patients, you know using the same technology
[00:19:34] We’re going to see platforms of scale emerge and that’s going to change the game. Those platforms of scale are going to mean that that disconnected ecosystem. Finally truly gets gets connected up and then perhaps most excitingly now. The fifth point is once we’ve got. Platforms of scale and connected ecosystems all that data that’s sitting inside the EMR sitting inside
[00:19:55] The practice management system is going to be freed. And that’s going to get out and [00:20:00] power Ai and you know power real insights that little drive a big big Improvement in patient outcomes. Yeah.
[00:20:07] Pete: [00:20:07] No that last point is really important as well. And I think it also like they’ll be they’ll be when I speak to people about
[00:20:14] Utilizing data with artificial intelligence in good ways is it sad sometimes the. The mindset of some people that would be well using data is is a bad like there’s all these negative connotations with utilizing data, but there was this some pretty cool stuff that you guys have done recently even with with some Partnerships with some guys using data for good things
[00:20:37] James: [00:20:37] Absolutely. We’ve just announced a great partnership with Movember. Yeah, and that what that what a great organization apart from the the dodgy facial hair they’ve sparked, but they’ve they’ve raised a lot of money and they really take take their responsibilities for delivering Better Health outcomes
[00:20:54] Really seriously they’re really determined to drive change. So we love what they’re doing and we’re [00:21:00] fortunate enough to serve more than 90% of of urologists probably urologists and in Australia, and so it just made sense to get on board with what what November trying to do to solve. To help prostate cancer sufferer’s
[00:21:13] It’s a great partnership. And we’re looking forward to adding any real value to our customers and making a difference in the fight against prostate cancer.
[00:21:23] Pete: [00:21:23] Have you heard about beard season, by the way?
[00:21:23] James: I haven’t.
[00:21:23] Pete: Yeah that that the beard thing that’s about skin checks, but anyway we’ll talk about that later, we’ll google that later.
[00:21:30] James: [00:21:30] My wife’s struggling with the idea of me grow a mustache
[00:21:33] Pete: [00:21:33] You could just back it up and just make it make it easy beard season and raise money for skin cancer awareness, but then that would be good
[00:21:39] Where were we? So the look we’ve talked a little bit about you know the need to open up collaboration interoperability and all of that. What do you find on a day today though that your doctors really want from from you guys? From Genie from their solution.
[00:21:59] James: [00:21:59] What do they [00:22:00] really want? So that the top three things they want
[00:22:02] So we’ve done the we’ve done the survey. We know what they want and the the top three things they want in the first thing they want is they want to improve their patient experience. They want to drive practice efficiency and they want to drive doctor efficiency so they can see see more patients
[00:22:16] That’s really clear. Yeah, so that’s what we’re that’s what we’re trying to deliver and we we focus our now significant development resources on delivering. Yeah.
[00:22:25] Pete: [00:22:25] And so then finally what’s next for you guys.
[00:22:29] James: [00:22:29] It’s interesting your mentioned about AI before and you talk to people in the I presume doctors who could be using this in they’re quite they’re quite
[00:22:39] Resistant that’s not their experience. So, you know when we’ve done surveys we found that doctors are super excited about what AI could bring. If not super positive about it at least really really curious ones wanting to know more. So the most exciting thing we’re working on at the moment as an AI program
[00:22:56] So and and you know that. Fits into [00:23:00] part of our platform Vision, so we’re well into a major build of our Cloud platform Gentu part of it, but we’re also building a series of shared services that will plug into both Gentu and into our into our desktop Genie solution for those customers and those Solutions are aimed at automating the patient Journey
[00:23:22] So we’re building out a series of. Automated forms offerings partnership with Hot Docs as well underway, and we’re delivering some great online appointment solutions for our customers soon in a range of things that automatics that journey and then connecting the disconnected ecosystems. So we’re launching a cloud Marketplace shortly and that will really help our customers provide safe
[00:23:50] Authorized recommended Integrations to third parties and then finally as I said most excitingly and how we bring bring all that together to power [00:24:00] AI and to help deliver patient outcomes.
[00:24:03] Pete: [00:24:03] Nice one. Looking forward to seeing how that all plays out. Is there anything else
[00:24:07] James: [00:24:07] Yeah, the sure is, you know, as we think about this this platform we’re fortunate to have backers private equity backers that want to build a much much bigger. Healthcare IT business ifm are a great partner and the underlying investor is actually Hesta the healthcare industry super fund. So they’re really aligned around our purpose
[00:24:31] Obviously they want to a return for their members, but they genuinely and strategically care about improving the healthcare system as well. So we’re really excited. We’re really looking for Investments that will accelerate that platform Vision. So, you know, we’re hoping to we’re actively out there looking for acquisition partnership opportunities that will help make that a reality more quickly
[00:24:48] Pete: [00:24:48] Very cool sounds like it’ll all come together. So that’s
[00:24:51] James: [00:24:51] That’s the plan
[00:24:52] Pete: [00:24:52] That’s the plan. Very excited to watch it all play out. I left some notes in the show notes on how people can check out more of what you guys do and beard season [00:25:00] that the James I really appreciate your time. Thanks so much for coming in
[00:25:04] James: [00:25:04] My pleasure. Thanks for having me