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CEO’s passion drives firm’s explosive growth

People who know Michael Margiotta describe his passion, and in particular his passion for making things right.
 
That passion has propelled eHealth Technologies Inc., a groundbreaking company with triple-digit annual revenue growth since 2007. The company also has seen rapid workforce growth from 36 full-time employees in January 2011 to 118, with projections for 200 employees by spring 2014.
 
The company debuted at No. 26 on the 2012 Rochester Top 100 list of fastest-growing private companies.
 
The firm also recently received a multimillion-dollar investment from Merck Global Health Innovation LLC.
 
For Margiotta, chairman and CEO, the premise of his company developed from learning about a co-worker’s loved one who was suffering because her medical records had been lost. He thought the struggle she had to endure to get new copies was not right, and he was going to do something to change it.
 
"I set up a secure T1-line and a server in the basement of my home in Hilton, and that was how I started my company. My brother-in-law, Loreto Barbone, was my first employee," says Margiotta, 42.
 
At the time, Margiotta had no way of knowing that his idea for helping people get copies of their medical records would grow into a system for critical document sharing that has become a model nationwide. But soon others began to take note of his idea for transferring medical tests, documents and images, and Margiotta had a great offer to consider. His business was growing and he could already see the tremendous potential, both for helping people and for making money.
 
"Then after two years I got a call from Ken Rosenfeld. He told me I was on to something really big, and he wanted to come on board as my partner. I’m so glad he did."
 
Rosenfeld says Margiotta has the true entrepreneur gene.
 
"I contacted Mike, thinking I could either interest him in Kodak Health Group products or find the entrepreneurial opportunity I had been looking for," said Rosenfeld, who at the time was worldwide director of the Information Management Solutions business for the Kodak Health Group, later to become Carestream Health Inc.
 
"We met for lunch and had a great conversation and immediate connection," says Rosenfeld, eHealth’s president and chief technology officer. "My commitment to join Mike was sealed based upon a trip to the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, where we sat around at a table with clinical department heads from across the facility- and they all shared how much of an issue they had with accessing outside records and were excited how Mike could help them with this."
 
Rosenfeld negotiated leaving Kodak and joined eHealth Technologies full time in September 2006.
 
The business of eHealth Technologies, now with its headquarters at Allens Creek Office Park in Brighton, is divided into two service lines: eHealth Referral Solutions and eHealth Imaging Solutions.
 
The company accesses medical records and diagnostic images in any format and then delivers them securely to providers and clinicians in a digital format to improve the continuity of care. The company’s clients include 12 regional health information organizations, known as RHIOs, and 54 of the top 100 hospitals in the United States, Margiotta says.

Growth ahead
As Margiotta was establishing the company, he spent the early years trying to determine its direction.
 
"I was trying to figure our positioning. Our customers didn’t know there was a solution," Margiotta says. "Now we can drop big names because we have more than half of the top hospitals. And with the Obama administration’s focus on health care and requirement for electronic medical records, we are in the sweet spot for growth."
 
He believes much of the growth will come from combining the two sides of his business.
 
"The environment is merging, and we are merging our two business lines into one, eHealth Connect," Margiotta says. "We’re not in silos anymore. We need to have more shared platforms.
 
"There are 36 IT platforms in any hospital that touch patient care and they may not speak to each other-pediatrics, cardiac care, there is a huge breakdown when it comes to communication. We provide the technology so all of the non-connected systems can share information."
 
Together, Margiotta and Rosenfeld have been at the helm of a steamship that has been making waves in the health care industry, and until now there have been no competitors in their wake, Margiotta says. But competition is coming.
 
"There are (rumblings) of folks coming to provide that technology. But technology is only part of the equation. Technology is only as good as the human at the other end pushing the button," Margiotta says. "We don’t outsource. Even when competition comes in, they will focus on the technology, not the people. We have an advisory board of clinicians, and our assured delivery is our ‘special sauce.’"
 
His passion for making things right applies to his hiring philosophy. He believes his employees set the standard for customer satisfaction, and he wants to ensure he has the right team.
 
"We can’t afford to make mistakes. We’re dealing with people’s medical records and often the sickest of the population. It’s very sensitive. I expect excellence and good character from my employees," he says.
 
The company’s customers have come to expect excellence. Every document that leaves the company is reviewed by a human, Margiotta says. Two people from the staff are dedicated to checking each and every record that goes out.
 
"Humans have to do it. We’ve heard stories of others where patient documents had a Chinese (restaurant) menu mixed in," Margiotta says. "With us, we have 30,000 to 40,000 patients a month with 10 to 15 records each. It’s a lot of documents."
 
He is proud of eHealth’s high customer satisfaction. One of the biggest challenges he faces will be maintaining that as the company manages the expected explosive growth.
 
"I want to make sure we have the right employees, maintain the culture of excellence we have and always remember we are dealing with patients, not paper," he says.
 
Though eHealth Technologies may not be saving lives directly, a touching letter Margiotta received shows that its employees are, indirectly, he says. It was about a patient who needed an organ transplant and had been waiting for more than a year.
 
"I received word from the Hershey Medical Center that the request came in on a Thursday and the patient got registered. They received a transplant from an organ harvested from a victim in a bad accident over that weekend," Margiotta says. "I was told without us, the patient would have died one month later."
 
Cases like that help everyone at the company remember the people behind the paper documents, Margiotta says. His company exists to improve efficiencies in health care and to make lives easier at a time when people are often most stressed.
 
"Before us, when a patient received a CT scan, they would be exposed to radiation, get their tests burned to a CD and delivered to a lab. It could take days. If the CD gets lost, they may need to take the test all over again. But we take care of all that," Margiotta says. "We can get the records and transfer them to wherever they need to be in no time. The patient and their family can focus on getting to where they need to be. There is fulfillment in that for me."

Finding balance
Keeping stress at bay can be difficult with the high pressure of heading such a rapidly growing, successful business. Margiotta and Rosenfeld find ways to vent some steam in and out of the office.
 
"We have trained for athletic events together, triathlons, so we go out on runs and talk about things, exercise, working in some stress relief. It’s great," Rosenfeld says.
 
Margiotta always has been an excellent athlete. He attended St. John’s University in Queens with a full athletic scholarship for lacrosse and football.
 
"Another great thing about Mike is his sense of humor," Rosenfeld says. "He has a practical joker side. Every once in a while he will hide someone’s keys on them until they get frustrated.
 
"It’s all in good fun and helps us come together as a team. Once you get over 100 people as we have, it’s hard to keep it like family. Fun helps."

Off the job
Margiotta still gives his family and his commitment to charity higher priority than his business. When he has free time, he says, there is no way he would rather spend it than with his family, especially his sons, enjoying simple things such as playing soccer or lacrosse and working out.
 
His wife of 17 years, Connie, says he finds ways to strike a good balance between work and his home life. The couple both grew up here, Connie in Greece and Margiotta in West Irondequoit and Charlotte. They now live in Victor, Ontario County, and have three boys, Alessandro, 13, Adriano, 12, and Maurizio, 6.
 
"He schedules out-of-town meetings around the boys’ soccer schedule, and he has seldom missed one of their games. He makes time to take the kids to the park, and if he needs to, he doesn’t mind taking a conference call from the car in the parking lot," says Connie, who is a stay-at-home mom. "He’s also one to remind me we need to get a date night for ourselves now and then."
 
Margiotta is expressive about the way he feels and has a special way of showing it when he goes on business trips.
 
"He will leave a note for each of us, telling us he will miss us," Connie says. "It’s his way to say goodbye before he goes. He is very open with his feelings."
 
Margiotta has a strong love for his family and for all children, especially children who are less fortunate. He dedicates much of his time to a cause that fights for the rights of abused children. It is volunteer work he and his wife both enjoy.
 
"We have the ability and the desire, and if we don’t do it, who will?" Margiotta says.
 
The charity that gets most of his focus is Action Against Child Maltreatment, a non-profit organization that the Margiottas founded in 2000. It is focused on the prevention of violent and sexual crimes against children. The non-profit works with local law enforcement and social agencies to provide them with the necessary resources and technology to keep a more accurate account of habitual offenders within the community and to monitor closely those most likely to commit offenses against children.
 
In addition, Margiotta also volunteers his time with Project Exile, an effort to keep illegal guns off the streets, and Camp Good Days & Special Times/Cancer Mission 2020. He is a past board member of the Bivona Child Advocacy Center as well as the Society for the Protection and Care of Children.

Health care industry
Margiotta had a background in health care before joining eHealth Technologies, beginning with his work as CEO and chairman of Mediquest Pharmacy Express LLC from 1994 to 1997. He was Northeast regional sales manager for Centocor Biotech Inc. from 1997 to 1999. The company was acquired by Johnson & Johnson.
 
From 2000 to 2006, Margiotta was the senior sales manager in the Peripheral Vascular Division at C.R. Bard Inc. and served as chairman and CEO of National Digital Health Solutions in Rochester from 2005 to 2006, when it was acquired by eHealth Technologies.
 
With all the growth eHealth Technologies has seen over the past eight years, the company is positioned for what could be its biggest year yet. The investment of more than $6 million from the Merck Global Health Innovation Fund will bring greater growth, he says.
 
"We are continuing to grow our infrastructure and expand the marketing of our solutions to (integrated delivery networks), hospitals, health information exchanges and cancer treatment centers so that they in turn can see patients faster and have more productive first appointments," Margiotta says.
 
He is excited, if not sometimes overwhelmed, by the prospects of how much his company could do. EHealth Technologies has been a trailblazer already, and this could be just the beginning.
 
For him, the best part of his job is just the ability to do it.
 
"I was born and raised here. I am grateful to be able to provide a great place to work and to provide a technology and service to people who truly need it," he says.
 
Margiotta’s tremendous drive as an entrepreneur is rooted in his passion to make things right, he believes: "Do good things, and good things will happen."

Lori Gable is a Rochester-area freelance writer.

Michael Margiotta
Age: 42
Position: Chairman and CEO, eHealth Technologies Inc.
Education: AAS degrees in paralegal studies and accounting, Herkimer County Community College, Herkimer, 1992; B.S. degrees in accounting and legal studies, St. John’s University, Queens, 1994
Family: Wife, Connie; sons Alessandro, 13, Adriano, 12, and Maurizio, 6
Residence: Victor, Ontario County
Interests: Volunteering for non-profit organizations, particularly to protect children; family; fitness
Honors: Rochester Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 award in 2010; New York area finalist for Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 Award
Quote: "Success and respect are not given but earned through hard work, dedication and commitment to excellence. Both are worth the effort."

2/8/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.
 

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